Sophia Institute Press this week released Jerome’s Tears: Letters to Friends in Mourning, a translation of seven of St. Jerome’s letters of consolation by language teacher Mr. David Bonagura ’99 P’25.
“St. Jerome is best known for compiling the Latin edition of the Bible, called the Vulgate, and rightly so,” said Mr. Bonagura. “He is also known for a famous quotation: ‘Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.’ But there is more to St. Jerome than this. We have 123 of his letters, written in a style equivalent to the modern essay, on a variety of topics. His letters of consolation stand out as some of the greatest examples of Latin prose and of pastoral care. Appropriately, St. Jerome offers wisdom from the Scriptures as his primary medicine for comforting the bereaved.”
Mr. Bonagura became interested in St. Jerome’s letters years ago while writing his graduate school thesis, for which he analyzed St. Jerome’s quotations of classical Roman authors such as Virgil and Cicero. “As I worked on the thesis, I thought people could really benefit from reading St. Jerome’s letters of consolation,” he said. “They are moving and inspiring. To my knowledge, these letters have never been put together in a single volume in English. So I went to work on them.”
The book contains seven letters written by St. Jerome from the years 389–412. In addition to translating the letters, Mr. Bonagura wrote an extended introduction to St. Jerome’s life, work, and thought. He also wrote a brief paragraph before each letter identifying the deceased, the bereaved, and the context.
The book is dedicated to the memory of Regis teachers Mr. John Connelly ’56 and Dr. Lou Macchiarulo, who influenced Mr. Bonagura’s path to becoming a Latin teacher.
“The ancients have so much to offer us,” said Mr. Bonagura. “Communicating this fact is something I have tried to do in my Latin classes for 20 years now. I am happy to offer St. Jerome’s teaching as a small example of this, especially on a topic that affects all of us: grief and mourning.”
Jerome’s Tears is available from the Sophia Institute Press website and from Amazon.com. Mr. Bonagura has written two previous books: Steadfast in Faith: Catholicism and the Challenges of Secularism and Staying with the Catholic Church: Trusting God’s Plan of Salvation.