« Decius, emperor Demetrias, Roman virgin Demetrius »

Demetrias, Roman virgin

Demetrias, a Roman virgin to whom Jerome wrote his treatise (Ep. 130, ed. Vall.) on the keeping of virginity. Her family was illustrious at Rome, her grandmother Proba (who is much praised by Jerome) having had three sons, all consuls. Demetrias had in early life wished to take the vow of virginity, but feared her parents' opposition. They, however, fully approved, and it gladdened all the churches of Italy. Her father having died just before the sack of Rome by Alaric, the family sold their property and set sail for Africa, witnessing the burning of Rome as they left Italy; and, arriving in Africa, fell into the hands of the rapacious count Heraclian, who took away a large part of their property. Jerome exhorts Demetrias to a life of study and fasting; care in the selection of companions; consecration of her wealth to Christ's service; and to working with her own hands. He warns her not to perplex herself with difficult questions introduced by the Origenists; and recommends the study of Scripture. He exhorts her to prefer the coenobitic to the hermit life, and bears testimony, as he had done 30 years before to Eustochium, to the excellence of the virgin-state, notwithstanding the attacks made upon it.

[W.H.F.]

« Decius, emperor Demetrias, Roman virgin Demetrius »
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