Jerome was one of the four Latin Fathers of the Church. He was born at Strido near Aquileia and lived from 342 to 420. As a young man he came to Rome to study, and was baptized there. His great contribution to the Church was a new translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). His life was divided between scholarship and ascetic practices. In Rome he was ordained a priest, but his biting tongue made him many enemies and he had to leave. He travelled by way of Antioch and Alexandria and reached Bethlehem where he remained for the rest of his life while ruling the men’s monastery.
As the panel indicates, Jerome revised an old Latin translation into the Vulgate. He did his work based on the original Hebrew and Greek languages.
Jerome often is portrayed with a lion. According to legendary sources, one day a lion limped into the monastery. The other monks fled, but Jerome examined the lion’s paw and removed from it a deeply embedded thorn. As a token of gratitude, the lion decided to become the constant companion of the saint.
Often Jerome is also depicted as an old man, sometimes in the read hat and crimson robes of a cardinal. In the early church the priests had the functions which later fell to the cardinals. In our picture the crimson robe is clearly rendered in the light of that pictorial tradition.