Jerome, Saint

(Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius; c. 342-420)
   One of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Born in Dalmatia to a wealthy pagan family, St. Jerome went to Rome to acquire an education and there he was baptized by Pope Liberius in 360. A vision of Christ convinced him to settle in the Syrian Desert where for four years he engaged in fasting, prayer, meditation, and the study of the Hebrew language. This is the subject of Andrea del Castagno's Vision of St. Jerome (c. 1454-1455) in the Church of Santisima Annunziata, Florence, where the saint is shown as an as-cetic character who beats his chest with a rock, the vision of Christ above him, the lion whose thorn he removed at his side, and his followers Sts. Paola and Eustochium bearing witness to the event. When Jerome emerged from the desert, he went to Antioch where he was ordained by St. Paulinus. His newly acquired knowledge allowed him to translate the Bible from the true Hebrew version into Latin, which the Council of Trent declared to be the official Vulgate of the Catholic Church. It remained as such until 1979 when Pope John Paul II replaced it with the New Vulgate. As a result of the Tridentine council's declaration, St. Jerome became one of the preferred subjects of Baroque art. George de La Tour rendered the Penitent St. Jerome (1628-1630; Stockholm, Nationalmuseum) on one knee, his whip in one hand, his crucifix in the other, and his ecclesiastic vestments prominently displayed. Jusepe de Ribera (1626; Naples, Museo Nazionale di Capodimonte) and Simon Vouet painted St. Jerome and the Angel of Judgment (c. 1625; Washington, National Gallery) where the saint (and the viewer) is reminded of the Last Judgment and transience of life. Agostino Carracci (c. 1592-1593; Bologna, Pinacoteca Nazionale) and Domenichino (1614; Vatican, Pinacoteca) rendered the Last Communion of St. Jerome where he is administered the last rites.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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