Against prayers to the saints in the Early Church (Jerome vs. Vigilantius)


Painting of Saint Jerome – Djordje Ozbolt

From the comments box:

Hi Taylor,

As always, love the blog. Question: did anyone in the early church write AGAINST seeking the intercession of (dead) saints?

Yes, there were folks in the early Church who protested against the invocation of the saints. The most notable defenders of invoking the saints were Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine. The most well known exchange was the rather polemical response of Saint Jerome (pro-praying to saints) to a certain Vigilantius (anti-praying to saints), who had once been a friend of Jerome and had even lived with the saint for a time.

Saint Jerome turned his gifted (yet abrasive) quill against Vigilantius for holding the following errors:

  1. Vigilantius questioned the veneration of relics.
  2. Vigilantius questioned prayers offered to departed (dead) saints
  3. Vigilantius questioned shrines to saints and the miracles attributed to them
  4. Vigilantius questioned the vow of poverty
  5. Vigilantius questioned the idea that holy virginity held a higher place that holy matrimony

You can read Saint Jerome’s work Against Vigilantius by clicking here. Let me warn you – Saint Jerome’s tone in this work is at its worst. In my opinion he lacks charity. His words are almost acidic. The work Against Vigilantius opens with these words:

All at once Vigilantius (Wakeful-One), or, more correctly, Dormitantius (Sleepy-One), has arisen, animated by an unclean spirit, to fight against the Spirit of Christ, and to deny that religious reverence is to be paid to the tombs of the martyrs. Vigils, he says, are to be condemned; Alleluia must never be sung except at Easter; continence is a heresy; chastity a hot-bed of lust.

And as Euphorbus is said to have been born again in the person of Pythagoras, so in this fellow the corrupt mind of Jovinianus has arisen; so that in him, no less than in his predecessor, we are bound to meet the snares of the devil. The words may be justly applied to him: “Seed of evil-doers, prepare your children for the slaughter because of the sins of your father.”

Read the rest of Saint Jerome’s Against Vigilantiuis at New Advent.

Comments Policy: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. If your comment contains a hyperlink to another site, your comment automatically goes into "Comments Purgatory" where it waits for release by way of moderation.

Against prayers to the saints in the Early Church (Jerome vs. Vigilantius)


Painting of Saint Jerome – Djordje Ozbolt

From the comments box:

Hi Taylor,

As always, love the blog. Question: did anyone in the early church write AGAINST seeking the intercession of (dead) saints?

Yes, there were folks in the early Church who protested against the invocation of the saints. The most notable defenders of invoking the saints were Saint Jerome and Saint Augustine. The most well known exchange was the rather polemical response of Saint Jerome (pro-praying to saints) to a certain Vigilantius (anti-praying to saints), who had once been a friend of Jerome and had even lived with the saint for a time.

Saint Jerome turned his gifted (yet abrasive) quill against Vigilantius for holding the following errors:

  1. Vigilantius questioned the veneration of relics.
  2. Vigilantius questioned prayers offered to departed (dead) saints
  3. Vigilantius questioned shrines to saints and the miracles attributed to them
  4. Vigilantius questioned the vow of poverty
  5. Vigilantius questioned the idea that holy virginity held a higher place that holy matrimony

You can read Saint Jerome’s work Against Vigilantius by clicking here. Let me warn you – Saint Jerome’s tone in this work is at its worst. In my opinion he lacks charity. His words are almost acidic. The work Against Vigilantius opens with these words:

All at once Vigilantius (Wakeful-One), or, more correctly, Dormitantius (Sleepy-One), has arisen, animated by an unclean spirit, to fight against the Spirit of Christ, and to deny that religious reverence is to be paid to the tombs of the martyrs. Vigils, he says, are to be condemned; Alleluia must never be sung except at Easter; continence is a heresy; chastity a hot-bed of lust.

And as Euphorbus is said to have been born again in the person of Pythagoras, so in this fellow the corrupt mind of Jovinianus has arisen; so that in him, no less than in his predecessor, we are bound to meet the snares of the devil. The words may be justly applied to him: “Seed of evil-doers, prepare your children for the slaughter because of the sins of your father.”

Read the rest of Saint Jerome’s Against Vigilantiuis at New Advent.

Comments Policy: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. If your comment contains a hyperlink to another site, your comment automatically goes into "Comments Purgatory" where it waits for release by way of moderation.