Julia Eustochium

c.370-418. First Roman lady of noble birth to take the vow of perpetual virginity. She was the third of five children to her mother Paula,* the friend of Jerome.* It is from the latter's writings that we gather all that is known of Eustochium. It was to her that Jerome addressed his famous letter in which he discusses the motives that ought to actuate those who devote themselves to a life of virginity, and the rules by which they ought to live. The animosity aroused by this and other letters in which he satirizes Roman society was largely responsible for his departure from Rome in 385. He was followed by Paula and Eustochium, and after joining company in Antioch, they traveled together through Palestine to Egypt, visiting the monks of Nitria and Didymus the Blind.* They returned to Palestine in the autumn of 386 and settled at Bethlehem. A monastery was built of which Jerome was head, and a convent for women of which Eustochium was head from the time of her mother's death in 404. Jerome speaks glowingly of Eustochium's devotion to the ascetic life, to the study of the Scriptures, and to the training of the virgins. He attributes the writing of many of his commentaries to her thirst for knowledge of the Scriptures.