Anthony Burgess

“Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.”

Harry Matthews

“Translation is the paradigm, the exemplar of all writing. It is translation that demonstrates most vividly the yearning for transformation that underlies every act involving speech, that supremely human gift.”


 Edmond Cary

“Translators live off the differences between languages, all the while working toward eliminating them.”


Saint Jerome
Saint Jerome


Saint Jerome (331-420 A.D.) is a prominent figure in the history of translation. After his death he was canonized, and today he is considered the patron saint of translators.

When he was young, Jerome’s wealthy parents sent him to Rome to study grammar, rhetoric and philosophy with the famous grammarian Aelius Donatus. Following stays in Trier and Aquileia, in 373 Jerome travelled overland to the East of the Empire and lived in Syria as a hermit. Later, in Antioch on the Orontes River he learned Greek and Hebrew, which was an exceptional skill among the scholars of his time. He was ordained as a priest in Antioch in 379. Subsequently, in Constantinople, he studied under the church teacher Gregory of Nazianzus.

From 382 to 384 he was secretary of Pope Damasus I, who entrusted him to elaborate a translation of the Bible into Latin, based on recognised Greek texts. He also translated the Old Testament from Hebrew. For a long time, Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Bible was the most relevant text for the Roman Catholic Church.

Jerome was considered a hardworking and highly educated literary man who also read and made use of pagan works. He was also said to be temperamental, taking his theology and its interpretation very seriously. On occasion, a difference of opinion interpreted by him as a personal insult could provoke a rather polemical reaction from this scholar. Jerome was known to say: Parce mihi, Domine, quia Dalmata sum (Forgive me, Lord, for I am Dalmatian).

According to tradition, Jerome pulled a thorn from a lion’s paw. As a result, the lion became his tame and faithful companion. That is why, apart from the Bible and the red cardinal’s hat, the lion is also one of Jerome’s attributes.  (Source: Hieronymus in Wikipedia).