*An article about the Bible, Apache warriors and spelling*
*(… OK, maybe not quite, but they are in there somewhere)*
Today it’s 30 September, which means…. drum roll, please…. it’s International Translation Day! (Just over a month after International Cat Day, which says a lot about our priorities!)
Why 30 September? Because it marks the death of Saint Jerome, the patron saint of translators (and Biblical scholars, librarians and students…. but let’s not get carried away, it’s OUR special day, ok?).
Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus Stridonensis… or Jerome to his friends, is best known (to translators, at least) for translating the Bible. Contrary to popular belief, however, he wasn’t the first to translate it, as versions already existed in Greek, Latin and a number of other languages.
So why is he so famous? Because, unlike the translators before him who only tackled some of the books in the Bible, good old Jerome translated them all. His translations are also based on the original Hebrew, in contrast to other Latin translators who used the Septuagint—an existing Greek version—making their work a translation of a translation. And we all know what that means (OK, again, don’t worry if you don’t)… Not great!
So, the lesson is: if you hope to one day be proclaimed the patron saint of your profession, you don’t need to be the first, you just need to be the best!
Whilst we’re on the subject, did you know the Apache warrior Geronimo also had a connection with Saint Jerome? According to the French Wikipedia entry, “In 1858, after his mother, wife and three children were murdered by the Mexican army, he led a series of revenge raids in Mexican territory, avenging his family on 30 September 1859, the feast day of Saint Jerome. Inspired by the Mexicans’ cries for Jerome to come to their aid (“Geronimo! Geronimo!”), he decided to take the name for himself.” I couldn’t find any confirmation of this elsewhere though, so I’d take it with a pinch of salt.
P.S. If you checked out the original French version of this article, or if you just speak both languages, you might have noticed that in French we sometimes write “saint Jérôme” but other times use “Saint-Jérôme”. It’s not a mistake. The first spelling is used to refer to the person, i.e., Hieronymus, and the second to refer to the feast day. The same goes for “Saint-Valentin” (Valentine’s Day), the feast day that celebrates Saint Valentine (saint Valentin).