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E06519: Jerome describes how Paula travelled through Palestine in 385 and visited the tombs of *Abraham (Old Testament patriarch, S00275), *Isaac (Old Testament patriarch, S00276) and *Adam (S00772) or *Caleb (Old Testament figure, S02459) in Hebron; Letter 108, written in Latin in Bethlehem (Palestine), 404.

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posted on 2018-09-17, 00:00 authored by Philip
Jerome of Stridon, Letter 108.11 ('Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae')

Atque inde consurgens ascendit Chebron, haec est Chariatharbe, id est 'oppidum virorum quattuor', Abraham, Isaac et Iacob et Adam magni, quem ibi conditum iuxta librum Hiesu Hebraei autumant, licet plerique Chaleb quartum putent, cuius ex latere memoria demonstratur.

'From there she went up to Hebron, or Kiriath-Arba, the "town of four men" – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the great Adam, whom the Jews suppose (on the basis of the Book of Joshua) is buried there, though a good many think that the fourth man is Caleb, whose tomb can be seen off the side and separated from the others.'

Text: Hilberg 1996 (1912). Translation: Cain 2013.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Abraham, Old Testament patriarch : S00275 Isaac, Old Testament patriarch : S00276 Jacob, Old Testament patriarch : S00280 Adam and Zoe/Eve : S00772 Caleb, Old Testament figure : S02459

Saint Name in Source

Abraham Isaac Iacob Adam Chaleb

Type of Evidence

Literary - Letters


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Bethlehem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Jerome of Stridon

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives



In the second half of 404 Jerome composed an Epitaph for his late friend and patron, Paula, which was transmitted to us as letter 108. The work depicts Paula as an example for ascetic women and bears features of hagiography. Paula died on 26 January 404 in Bethlehem. She was the descendant of a Roman aristocratic family, who traced their lineage back to the Gracchi and Scipiones. She was dedicated to the western ascetic movement and had spent more than twenty years by the side of Jerome of Stridon, whom she had followed with her daughter Eustochium to the Holy Land in 385, where they founded a monastery and a convent in Bethlehem. Paula was not only Jerome's most faithful companion, but also his biggest sponsor. Jerome's Letter 108.8-13 describes Paula's pilgrimage through the Holy Land, which lasted from late winter 385 to late spring 386.


Hebron was a well populated city in the 4th century (see Eusebius, Onomasticon 6.8). The identification of the cave of Machpelah in Hebron as the burial site of the patriarchs and their wives is based on Old Testament passages (Gen. 25:9-10, 35:27-30, 49:29-31, 50:13). Herod the Great erected a monument on top of this cave which is preserved to this day.


Edition: Hilberg, I., Hieronymus, Epistulae 71-120 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 55; Vienna, 1996). Translation and commentary: Cain, A., Jerome's Epitaph on Paula: A Commentary on the Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae (Oxford, 2013).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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