Born in Rome of the Imperial Roman nobility on May 5, 347 a.d., Paula married Senator Toxotius, and the couple had five children - Toxotius, Blesilla, Paulina, Eustochium, and Rufina. They were regarded as an ideal married couple, but upon Toxotius death in 379 a.d., Paula renounced the world, lived in the greatest austerity, and devoted herself to helping the poor. She met St. Jerome in 382 a.d. through St. Epiphanius and Paulinus of Antioch, and was closely associated with Jerome and his work while he was in Rome.
The death of her daughter, Blesilla in 384 a.d. left her heartbroken, and in 385 a.d., she left Rome with Eustochium, traveled to the Holy Land with Jerome, and a year later settled in Bethlehem, under his spiritual direction. She and Eustochium built a monastery and a convent, which Paula governed, along with a hospice for pilgrims, and travelers, because as she said, "Mary and Joseph had not been able to find shelter when they came to Bethlehem".
She became Jerome's closest confidante and assistant, helping him with his biblical work and the building of numerous churches. Jerome later wrote her biography. Paula died of natural causes on January 26, 404 a.d. in Bethlehem and is buried under the Church of the Nativity at Nazareth. She is the patroness of widows with her feast day being celebrated on January 26.