St Jerome

There is not much in the village of Grahovopolje that testifies to the tremendous impact one of its beloved sons had on the Roman Catholic Church and, though it, the world.

The village is little more than a few homes tucked into the folds of the western edge of the Dinaric Alps, it's most endearing feature the road leading back to the towns of central Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This village, however, has a story of such significance to tell that many major cities are less than its equal.

In the middle of the fourth century, a little boy was born in the village - at the time known as Stridon. The settlement was a trading post on the border between the Roman provinces of Pannonia and Dalmatia and the little boy was none other than Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus.

Like many rural Bosnian children, Eusebius dreamed of a life away from the peaceful villages of the Balkans and longed for an existence of significance in one of the Empire's major cities, perhaps even Rome.

In the year 360, he set out for Rome with a friend. Like many Bosnian Christians, Eusebius had never been properly baptized and when he finally arrived in the capital, it was one of the first things he did.

His intention was to study philosophy and soon was taken in by Aelius Donatus, who taught Eusebius both grammar and a variation of the Greek language.

Within a decade, Eusebius left Rome and travelled through the Balkans and Asia all the way to northern Syria. It was in Syria that this calm and intellectual man heard his calling.

While in the bouts of the severe fever brought on by an illness that killed several of his companions, Eusebius was filled with the desire to abandon his secular way of life and devote all of himself, particularly his studies, to God.

His religious journey brought him to the desert, to Constantinople, and eventually back to Rome where he served on several councils of Pope Damasus, most aimed at bridging the growing divide between Western and Eastern Christianity.

It was, ironically, one of his mundane endeavours during this era that had the most significant impact on Roman Catholicism and the world.

Christians throughout Europe and Asia were using a range of different Bibles with often dramatic differences. In an attempt to create a universally accepted Bible, Eusebius set out translating religious scriptures from both Greek and Hebrew into Latin, the language of the people.

Following the death of Pope Damasus, Eusebius returned to northern Syria where he spent the rest of his days living a simple life devoted to God and to Roman Catholicism.

He finally passed away on September 30, 420, in a village near Bethlehem.

His translation, which was called the Vulgate, soon became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church - and remains so today.

Eusebius himself eventually became Saint Jerome, his memory merging with myth and legend to become one of the most prominant and recognized figures in Roman Catholicism.

The real Eusebius, however - that little boy from Grahovopolje - did not become famous at all, for which he must certainly have been proud.

From Grahovopolje to the edge of Bethlehem, from village to village - there is little that tells the story of this man. The people are often not even aware of the important figure that walked their streets and took in the sights and smells of their gardens.

You can almost sense him smiling.