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Jerome and Scripture - 1920

Pope Benedict XV urged Bible reading and study.


On this day, 15 September 1920, as the fifteenth centenary of church father Jerome’s death approached, Pope Benedict XV issued the encyclical Spiritus Paraclitus. In it he called for renewed appreciation of Jerome and of the Scriptures Jerome translated and interpreted. He reiterated Catholic teaching on the origin of Scripture.


“If we ask how we are to explain this power and action of God, the principal cause, on the sacred writers we shall find that St. Jerome in no wise differs from the common teaching of the Catholic Church. For he holds that God, through His grace, illumines the writer’s mind regarding the particular truth which, ‘in the person of God,’ he is to set before men; he holds, moreover, that God moves the writer’s will—nay, even impels it— to write; finally, that God abides with him unceasingly, in unique fashion, until his task is accomplished. Whence the Saint infers the supreme excellence and dignity of Scripture, and declares that knowledge of it is to be likened to the ‘treasure’and the ‘pearl beyond price,’ since in them are to be found the riches of Christ and ‘silver wherewith to adorn God’s house….’

“Delay not, Venerable Brethren [i.e. bishops], to impart to your people and clergy what on the fifteenth centenary of the death of ‘the Greatest Doctor’ we have here set before you. . . . Our one desire for all the Church’s children is that, being saturated with the Bible, they may arrive at the all surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ. In testimony of which desire and of our fatherly feeling for you we impart to you and all your flocks the Apostolic blessing.”


Pope Benedict XV. Spiritus Paraclitus.

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