medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
We know about Eustochium (d. 418 or 419) chiefly from the correspondence of St. Jerome. A younger daughter of St. Paula of Rome and her husband, the senator Toxotius, after her father's death in 379 she took part in her widowed mother's newly adopted ascetic lifestyle. A few years later, when both had come under Jerome's influence, Eustochium was in constant attendance at his lectures on Holy Scripture at the house of the matron Marcella. Jerome's Letter 22, on virginity, is addressed to her. In 385-386 Eustochium accompanied her mother on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; for much of this tour they were accompanied by Jerome. In 386 the party settled in Bethlehem, where Paula founded a monastery for women plus a smaller men's house for Jerome and where she and Eustochium learned Hebrew and supported Jerome. The latter's translation of Kings is dedicated to both of them; his prefaces to Isaiah and to Ezechiel are addressed to Eustochium alone.
After Paula's death in 404 Eustochium took charge of the women's monastery in Bethlehem and continued to collaborate with Jerome until her own passing. In one of three letters in which Jerome recounts his sorrow at Eustochium's death, he calls her a "holy and venerable virgin of Christ" (Letter 151); in another (Letter 154) he again calls her "holy and venerable". Eustochium's cult is apparently late medieval in origin: absent from the martyrologies of the ninth century, she is included in Pietro de Natalibus' _Catalogus sanctorum_ (ca. 1375) and is entered under today in an expanded Usuard written at Haguenau in 1412.
Jo Ann McNamara's article on Paula and Eustochium, "Cornelia's Daughters Paula and Eustochium", _Women's Studies_ 11 (1984), 9-27, is reproduced here on the free Web:
A view of what are shown as the tombs of Paula and Eustochium in the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem:
Some period-pertinent images of Eustochium of Bethlehem (the geographical suffix distinguishes her from Bl. Eustochium of Padua and from St. Eustochia Calafati, whose name in religion was Eustochium):
a) Eustochium as depicted (center panel; with Paula, receiving instruction from Jerome) in a full-page illumination in the ninth-century First Bible of Charles the Bald (Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 1, fol. 3v):
The inscription underneath reads (abbreviations expanded): _eustochio nec non paulae divina salutis / jura dat altithrono fultus ubique deo_.
b) as depicted (at right, receiving from Jerome, at left, a scroll bearing the incipit of Letter 273, addressed to her) in a late eleventh-century copy, from the abbey of Jumièges, of Jerome's commentary on Isaiah (to which this letter serves as preface) (ca. 1090; Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Bodl 717, fol. 6r):
Letter 273 (in English and in Latin):
c) as depicted (at upper left; at upper right: Paula; at center, from top to bottom: St. Jerome, the scribe Ivo, and Eustochium's dead sister Blesilla in her sarcophagus) on the frontispiece of an earlier twelfth-century copy of Jerome's _Commentarius in Ecclesiasten_ and various writings by Origen (ca. 1126-1151; Paris, BnF, ms. Latin 13350, fol. Bv):
d) as depicted by the Master of the Strauss Madonna in a late fourteenth- or early fifteenth-century panel painting (ca. 1390-1420) in the Pinacoteca Vaticana:
Her scroll reads: _Audi, filia, et vide et inclina aurem tuam et obliviscere populum tuum et domum patris tui. Et concupiscet rex decorem tuum_ (Ps. 44 , 11-12 _ad init._).
e) as depicted by (at left, flanking Jerome's vision of the Trinity; at right, Paula) Andrea del Castagno in an earlier fifteenth-century fresco (ca. 1444-1445) in the chapel of Girolamo Corboli in Florence's chiesa della Santissima Annunziata:
f) as depicted (at far right, with a lily and standing next to Paula) by Francesco Botticini in his late fifteenth-century panel painting of St. Jerome in Penitence with Saints and Donors (1490) in the National Gallery in London:
Detail view (Paula and Eustochium):
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