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E06526: Jerome describes how Paula travelled through Palestine in 385-6 and visited the tombs of *Joshua (Old Testament leader of the Israelites, S00258), and *Eleazar (Old Testament priest, son of Aaron, S01489) on Mount Ephraim; 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 108.13 ('Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae')

Sepulchra quoque in monte Ephraim Hiesu, filii Naue, et Eleazari, filii Aaron sacerdotis, e regione uenerata est - quorum alter conditus est in Thamnathsare a septentrionali parte montis Gaas, alter in Gabaath filii sui finees - satisque mirata est, quod distributor possessionum sibi montana et aspera delegisset.

'On Mount Ephraim she also venerated, in the order in which she came upon them, the tombs of Joshua, son of Nun, and of Eleazar, son of the high priest Aaron, which were situated opposite each other. Joshua was buried in Timnath-Serah on the north side of Mount Gaash and Eleazar in Gibeah, the town of his son Phineas. She was quite amazed that the one in charge of parcelling out territories had chosen for himself a rugged and mountainous area.'

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Joshua, Old Testament leader of the Israelites : S00258 Eleazar, Old Testament priest, son of Aaron : S01489

Saint Name in Source

Hiesus Eleazarus

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.


Mount Ephraim is referring to a mountainous district of Israel once occupied by the tribe of Ephraim (see Josh. 17:15, 19:50, 20:7). Joshua was buried at Timnath-serah on the north side of the hill of Gaash (Josh. 19:49-50). Eusebius (Onomasticon 100.2-3), the Bordeaux Pilgrim (Itin. 587.5), and Egeria (apud Peter the Deacon L2; trans. Wilkinson 1999, pp. 91-92) confirm that Joshua's tomb was being pointed out to pilgrims in the 4th century. According to the Old Testament, the high priest Eleazar was buried at Gibeah (Josh. 24:33), the place Paula visited. But Jerome also locates the tomb at the village of Babaas-Gabaath, in the vicinity of Eleutheropolis (Onomasticon 71.23-5), as does Eusebius (Onomasticon 70.22-4). In the 5th century two traditions competed to be recognised as the true tomb of Eleazar: a Samaritan one, which located the tomb at Awarta, and a Jewish one, which saw the tomb at Jibyia, and to which Jerome refers in the present passage.


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). Further reading: Wilkinson, J. (trans. and comm.), Egeria's Travels. 3rd ed. (Warminster: Aris & Phillips, 1999).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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