Saint Paula and Saint Eustochium

Paula was born in Rome in 347. She was a wealthy widow when she met Jerome, and under his guidance she followed a life of piety and abstinence. Her daughters, including Eustochium, adopted the same way of life.  Paula's elder daughter Blessila had adopted a rather more hedonistic lifestyle, but after an illness she followed the example of her mother and sister and began a life of extreme penitence. In 384 she died, and many in Rome blamed Jerome. This contributed to his growing unpopularity, an unpopularity that eventually was to force him to leave. 
   When he did so, Paula and Eustochium  accompanied him, eventually settling in Bethlehem and founding the 'nunnery next door' to Jerome's monastery; Paula provided much of the funding for these two establishments, and later for two more nunneries.  

   Jerome is seen as Paula and Eustochium's mentor, but I rather suspect that it was Paula that looked after and organised the unworldly Jerome.
   Paula died in 404; Eustochium took over as abbess at that point. She died in 419.

    Paula and Eustochium are generally represented only in association with Jerome.  Possibly the best image of them is the Jerome Altarpiece by Francesco Botticini, where they appear on the right. 

National Gallery, London

   The rather wooden affair below is by Francisco Zuberan. The more lively image is from the First Bible of Charles the Bald (ninth century) and shows a busy Jerome mentoring Paula, Eustochium and other Roman ladies while at the same time dictating to monks. 

SS Jerome, Paula and Eustochium.
National Gallery, Washington


Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris

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