This focus stemmed from his close patron relationships with several prominent female ascetics who were members of affluent senatorial families. D., when he had gone to Rome with his friend Bonosus (who may or may not have been the same Bonosus whom Jerome identifies as his friend who went to live as a hermit on an island in the Adriatic) to pursue rhetorical and philosophical studies. There Jerome learned Latin and at least some Greek, As a student in Rome, he engaged in the superficial escapades and homosexual behaviour of students there, which he indulged in quite casually but for which he suffered terrible bouts of guilt afterwards.
"Often I would find myself entering those crypts, deep dug in the earth, with their walls on either side lined with the bodies of the dead, where everything was so dark that almost it seemed as though the Psalmist's words were fulfilled, Let them go down quick into Hell.
Jerome initially used classical authors to describe Christian concepts such as hell that indicated both his classical education and his deep shame of their associated practices, such as pederasty which was found in Rome.
Although initially skeptical of Christianity, he was eventually converted.
He made his first attempt to learn Hebrew under the guidance of a converted Jew; and he seems to have been in correspondence with Jewish Christians in Antioch.
Around this time he had copied for him a Hebrew Gospel, of which fragments are preserved in his notes, and is known today as the Gospel of the Hebrews, and which the Nazarenes considered to be the true Gospel of Matthew.
Late in the summer of 388 he was back in Palestine, and spent the remainder of his life working in a cave near Bethlehem, the very cave Jesus was born, Amply provided by Paula with the means of livelihood and of increasing his collection of books, he led a life of incessant activity in literary production.
To these last 34 years of his career belong the most important of his works; his version of the Old Testament from the original Hebrew text, the best of his scriptural commentaries, his catalogue of Christian authors, and the dialogue against the Pelagians, the literary perfection of which even an opponent recognized.
He seems to have abstained for a considerable time from the study of the classics and to have plunged deeply into that of the Bible, under the impulse of Apollinaris of Laodicea, then teaching in Antioch and not yet suspected of heresy.
The protégé of Pope Damasus I, who died in December of 384, Jerome was known for his teachings on Christian moral life, especially to those living in cosmopolitan centers such as Rome.
In many cases, he focused his attention on the lives of women and identified how a woman devoted to Jesus should live her life.
His letters were widely read and distributed throughout the Christian empire and it is clear through his writing that he knew these virgin women were not his only audience.
Additionally, his condemnation of Blaesilla's hedonistic lifestyle in Rome had led her to adopt ascetic practices, but it affected her health and worsened her physical weakness to the point that she died just four months after starting to follow his instructions; much of the Roman populace were outraged at Jerome for causing the premature death of such a lively young woman, and his insistence to Paula that Blaesilla should not be mourned, and complaints that her grief was excessive, were seen as heartless, polarising Roman opinion against him.