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St. Jerome is usually remembered as a man with a cranky disposition, which doesn’t normally attract many friends.
However, he did have a few friends, and some of them were women dedicated to living out the Gospel in a radical way.
St. Asella was one of these friends and lived a radical life of holiness in Rome.
In A Dictionary of Saintly Women, we learn, “She lived on bread salt and water sometimes, fasting for days together…She worked with her hands and sang psalms. When she attended the Church of the Holy Martyrs she went very fast, so as not to be seen.”
Referring to St. Asella, “‘You,’ writes Jerome to Marcella, ‘have seen with your own eyes her holy knees hardened like those of a camel.'”
He later praised her life to St. Marcella in a letter:
In 384 in one of St Jerome’s letters to St Marcella he praises St Asella and says, “Do not tell her what I say for she will be displeased with eulogies of herself, but read the letter to young girls, that they may find in her conduct a rule of perfect piety. Let widows and virgins imitate her. Let wives make much of her. Let sinful women fear her and let bishops look up to her.“
St. Asella died in 406 and her feast day is December 6.