St. Paula of Palestine (404)
Commemorated on January 26
She was born in 347 to a noble family in Rome, and at age
sixteen married Toxotius, a prominent nobleman. Though her husband was a pagan,
he was devoted to her and gave her freedom to keep a Christian home and rear her
children as Christians. They were blessed with five children. When she was
thirty-two her husband died suddenly, and Paula resolved to turn her large house
in Rome into a monastery. Later she traveled to the Holy Land with her spiritual
father St Jerome (June 15). In Bethlehem she established two monasteries, one
for women (where she dwelt) and one for St Jerome and his companions. Every day
the nuns chanted the entire Psalter, which they were required to learn by heart.
Paula was exceptionally austere in her fasting and lavish in her almsgiving,
often giving away to the poor even the goods needed by her community for
subsistence. She aided her spiritual father and brother Jerome in his
controversies with Origen's followers: St Jerome himself was hot-tempered, and
St Paula often exhorted him to confront his enemies with patience and humility.