Saints to Remember Notes by Dr. Honora M. Finkelstein Other important writers of the early church included the following, all mentioned in Perry: St. Jerome (c. AD 340-420) wrote about the lives of the early saints and promoted the spread of monasticism. His greatest achievement was the translation of the Old and New Testaments from Hebrew and Greek into Latin. His text, the Vulgate (common) version of the Bible, became the official Bible of the Western church. St. Ambrose (AD 340-397), bishop of Milan, Italy, defended the autonomy of the church from the power of the state. His saying, “The Emperor is within the Church, not above it,” became a cardinal principle of the Medieval church. In essence, this was a beginning of the idea that even an official state religion need not be dominated by the state in which it existed (a sort of first draft of the idea of separation between church and state). In practice, the Church actually became more important and powerful than the state in some European countries, with the right to tell the kings what to do rather than the other way around. This is one reason why in the 16th century Henry VIII broke with the Roman Church and established the Church of England—he didn’t want Rome to tell him what to do (and he wanted to divorce his wife without repercussions). St. Augustine (AD 354-430) was the most important Christian writer of the late Roman Empire. He was the most influential because he offered yet a new “myth” for the masses. When the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410, many people, including Christians, wondered when the promised kingdom of God on earth was going to appear. Augustine wrote The City of God to answer this question, saying the worldly city should not be of concern. God’s heavenly city, where those who followed the true faith would go after death, should be their principal concern. However, people could not overcome their sinful natures, but could only be regenerated by God’s grace. He denied that reason alone could attain wisdom, because secular wisdom had no value and because the only purpose of knowledge was to discern the will of God. (See Marvin Perry, Western Civilization: A Brief History, 136). It is primarily because of Augustine that the human-centered outlook of classical humanism gave way to a God- centered world view. Augustine’s Confessions offer an insight into the man who felt confirmed that man’s nature was sinful. It has been said that he prayed, “God, make me a saint...but not yet!” because he truly wanted to experience the pleasures and sins of the physical life before having to become a model of sainthood. St. Benedict (c. AD 480-543) was the first to establish an ascetic order of monks. Although there had been Christian ascetics who withdrew from the world for well over a hundred years, his was the first community to have official church sanction and to begin to spread communities with similar goals in more than one place. The Benedictine monks professed vows of poverty, study, labor, and obedience to the rules of the order. Eventually all the orders professed poverty, chastity, and obedience, regardless of their other purposes. Made with Xara Website by Susan Smily