Jerome's Tears: Letters to Friends in Mourning

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The mystery of death strikes at the core of the human soul. We instinctively recoil at the pain of losing loved ones, and as we grapple, we are quick to seek remedies to console ourselves. There is no one better suited to assuage our grief than the translator of the Bible, St. Jerome (ca. 347–420). This book presents — for the first time in English — a fresh translation of seven of his most moving letters that sought to soothe his friends who suffered the loss of spouses, children, relatives, and loved ones.

You will be struck by the relevance of St. Jerome’s words to your experiences of grief today. You will learn how to find peace after the death of a dear one as St. Jerome, with palpable emotion, points to the hope promised in Christ’s Resurrection. You’ll also learn to transform your loss into a new opportunity to follow the Lord more closely through deeper Christian living, a union that St. Jerome explains powerfully to his friends.

This book begins with an introduction that presents the challenge of providing solace to the suffering along with a summary of St. Jerome’s long life and of his theology of consolation. Each of the seven letters is contextualized with a brief paragraph about the people and the situation at hand as well as key themes for the contemporary reader’s focus.

These precious letters reveal the compassionate heart of this enigmatic and eminent Church Father. By reflecting on the words that he used to hearten his spiritual children, you will be comforted in your own grief and fortified to support others in theirs. In these invaluable letters, you will encounter:

  • A mother whose daughter led a worldly life until just a few months before her death
  • An elderly bishop mourning the death of his young priest nephew
  • An influential and holy widow and widower grieving the deaths of their spouses
  • A wealthy man who lost two of his little daughters and his wife in close succession
  • Early Christians who converted, led lives of heroic charity, and became saints

St. Jerome also encourages those who remain in their grief to consider the blessings they received from the lives of their loved ones and to look forward to a happy eternity together with them in Heaven. After reading his letters, you will never think of death in the same way again.



St. Jerome was brilliant, prickly, ascetic, and difficult. In these powerful and poignant letters, we see that he was also wise, caring, and attentive—a pastor whose astounding erudition is matched by his Christo-centric compassion. David Bonagura has done us a great service in translating and introducing these timeless missives.


Carl Olson


David Bonagura's beautiful translation of St. Jerome's letters to friends grieving the death of their loved ones is a welcome gift to the modern reader seeking wisdom and guidance when facing the sorrow of loss. St. Jerome reminds his friends that eternal life is the reward of faith, piety and virtue. 


Fr. Gerald Murray


In these crisp translations, David Bonagura has recovered a little-known side of the great Doctor of the Church, St. Jerome, along with a timeless wisdom that is like a beacon in a storm. A book to keep close at hand - and return too often.


Robert Royal


Those in mourning usually report heavy reliance upon faith, family, and friends. David Bonagura, whose previous works have unfailingly inspired, tells us St. Jerome would agree! What an uplifting perspective from a father of the Church bringing ancient wisdom to the wounds of today!


Timothy Cardinal Dolan

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