We have a tradition here at Gleeson Library for the last 24 years: we celebrate the feast of Saint Jerome on September 30th. Why? Because Jerome is the patron saint of librarians and Jerome spent his life searching for the truth.
Jerome was born in 347 and died on September 30 in 420. He was a translator, theologian and priest. His translation of the Bible, called The Vulgate, was considered the most important translation of the Bible for over 1,000 years.
In Jerome’s time, the church was still defining Christian doctrine and beliefs. There were raging controversies about questions like the nature of Jesus (how could he be both human and divine) and the nature of the Trinity. Jerome took very strong positions on these kinds of issues. He had a reputation for being a difficult and argumentative person because of this. (I suspect many of us would not have liked Jerome personally). But Jerome did this because the truth mattered very much to him.
We are now living in a time when “fake news” is being created and used to attempt to influence our democracy. People are saying that all truth is relative and situational. For centuries, libraries and librarians have tried to gather information and help people determine what information is reliable, is truthful.
Libraries are creating research guides to help people spot and fight “fake news.” As all of us think about the role of media and the impact of fake news on our lives, it is important to remember the value of simple things like truth and honesty. Jerome’s unending pursuit of the truth, as he understood it, can be a reminder to all of us of the value of truth in turbulent times.
So this Saturday, September 30, take a moment to think of Jerome and appreciate the importance of truth in our lives and our society. And stop by Gleeson and see our display on St. Jerome and libraries.