Saint Lea of Rome
Commemorated on March 22nd
St. Lea of Rome is known only through the testimony of her beloved friend, the learned St. Jerome. We know that she lived contemporaneously with St. Jerome during the 4th Century. She was a noblewoman of Rome, born into wealth and privilege and married up the social ladder. However, soon after her marriage she was widowed and left in a very financially sound position. Instead of retiring as a wealthy widow, however, she joined a convent of consecrated virgins in the city—shedding all the money and social standing she possessed. In later years she was named the prioress of the convent.
During her tenure in religious life, it seems she become well-acquainted with St. Jerome, whose account of her stands as one of the primary sources of evidence for her existence and age-old veneration as a saint. It appears that she died in 384 while she was reciting Psalm 73 (alongside St. Jerome). In a letter relaying her death to others within the city of Rome, St. Jerome writes to St. Marcella that St. Lea, a woman of austerity, obedience and remarkable penances had died. He described her as “blessed,” emphasizing the woman’s virtues as being worthy of heaven.