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E06529: Jerome describes how Paula travelled through Palestine in 385 and visited the spring that Samson caused to gush from the earth, and the former tomb of *Micah (Old Testament Prophet, S01236), now a church; 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 108.14 ('Epitaphium Sanctae Paulae')

Transibo Aegyptum et in Soccoth atque apud fontem Samson, quem de molari maxillae dente produxit, subsistam parumper et arentia ora conluam, ut refocilatus uideam Morasthi, sepulchrum quondam Micheae prophetae, nunc ecclesiam.

'I will cross over into Egypt and stop for a while in Succoth, at the spring that Samson caused to gush from the tooth of the jawbone. I will drench my parched lips there so that after refreshing myself I may visit Moresheth-Gath, formerly the tomb of the prophet Micah but now a church.'

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


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Micah, the Old Testament Prophet : S01236

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

Cult building - independent (church)

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.


According to the Old Testament, Samson slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15:15). Afterwards he asked God to quench his thirst, which God answered by splitting open the earth, releasing water (Judges 15:18). The site of the spring was near Lower Succoth, a village some fourteen and a half kilometres from Eleutheropolis. Jerome's description of the site does not suggest any cult around the figure of Samson. Moreshet-Gath is only some three kilometres northwest of Eleutheropolis. Egeria, who toured the Holy Land a few years earlier (sometime between 381 and 384), does not mention a church at the tomb of Micah, which makes Jerome's passage the earliest evidence for a late 4th (or very early 5th) century church at the site.


Edition: Hilberg, I., Hieronymus, Epistulae 71-120 (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 55; Vienna, 1996). Translation: 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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