Saint Brigid Religious Education
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West Hartford, CT 06110

Pope St. Damasus I

Feast day: December 11

All lovers of Scripture have reason to celebrate this day. Damasus was the pope who commissioned Saint Jerome to translate the Scriptures into Latin, the Vulgate version of the Bible.

Damasus was a sixty-year-old deacon when he was elected Pope in 366. His reign was marked by violence from the start when another group decided to elect a different pope. Both sides tried to enforce their selections through violence. Though the physical fighting stopped, Damasus had to struggle with these opponents throughout his years as pope.

Damasus may not have won this battle directly, but he won the war by initiating works that outlasted all his opponents. Not only did he commission the Vulgate translation but he also changed the liturgical language of the Church from Greek to Latin. He worked hard to preserve and restore the catacombs, the graves of the martyrs, and relics.

Damasus was a writer,  but he didn't author as many volumes of treatises as other Christian writers did. Damasus liked to write epigrams in verse, short sayings that capture the essence of what needed to be said. He wrote many epigrams on martyrs and saints. And he wrote one about himself that shows his humility and the respect he had for the martyrs.

In a Roman cemetery is the papal crypt he built. All that is left of him there, however, is this: " I, Damasus, wished to be buried here, but I feared to offend the ashes of these holy ones." Instead, when he died in 384, he was buried with his mother and sister.

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