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E06528: Jerome describes how Paula travelled through Palestine in 385-6 and visited the well of *Jacob (Old Testament patriarch, S00280), and the church on the site; 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')

Transiuit Sychem – non, ut plerique errantes legunt, Sichar –, quae nunc Neapolis appellatur, et ex latere montis Garizim extructam circa puteum Iacob intrauit ecclesiam.

'She passed by Shechem (not Sichar, as a great many people spell it), which is now called Neapolis, and she entered the church built on the slope of Mount Gerizim around Jacob's well.'

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Jacob, Old Testament patriarch : S00280

Saint Name in Source


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

Holy spring/well/river

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.


On her trip through Palestine, Paula visited biblical Shechem, close by Neapolis (today Nablus) where a deep well hewn of solid rock can be seen to this day. Traditions associate it with Jacob (Gen. 33:18-20). A cruciform church was build over the site sometime between the visit of the Bordeaux Pilgrim in 333 and Paula's.


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: Schenk, H.M., "Jacobsbrunnen, Josephsgrab Sychar: topographische Untersuchungen und Erwägungen in der Perspektive von Joh. 4,5-6," Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 84 (1968), 159-84.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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