Tuesday, September 30
St. Jerome - "The Scorpion"
Domenico Ghirlandaio, St. Jerome in His Study, 1480. A handsome Renaissance work, that, while filled with the era's distinct classical style, nonetheless retains in this instance the rich iconographic detail of earlier medieval works (though his lion appears to have gone missing in this instance). Formerly on the ponte or roodscreen of the church of the Ognissanti, Florence, it was balanced on the other side by a fresco of St. Augustine. (At least so I have been told). The two are now housed in separate chapels within the church. The scissors are a symbol of biblical exegesis. And yes, we know they did not have cardinals back then. We do not care. They had bishops and they had popes, and that's close enough for me.
Long before I rode the water-taxi to Regla, many wise men and women had already discerned how best to approach such luck. One of these sages was Saint Jerome, the man who translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin in the fifth century. Legend had it Saint Jerome used to say, "Have mercy on me, Lord, I am a Dalmatian," [the saint was from Istria in Dalmatia] while he beat his breast with a stone, struggling to suppress his own will and make his soul ready for God's grace. What a wise man. He knew how deeply sin dwells in our own skin. My own worst instincts still lead me to turquoise water, tangerine sunsets, and the judge's seat. I, too, find myself clutching jagged chunks of granite, beating my breast, seeking redemption. But I have to make a slight alteration in Jerome's prayer--a small change that makes a world of difference:
Misere mei, Domine, Cubanus sum.
"Have mercy on me, O Lord, I am a Cuban."
"I like Jerome because he is proof that even grumpy old men can become saints and get into heaven. Apparently, there is room for all temperaments in God's kingdom. [...] In Rome he had a benefactor who later became his best friend, a woman named Paula. She followed him to Bethlehem, and financed his monastery and three convents. When she died, crusty, cantankerous old Jerome was said to be inconsolable." (Source).
And for the kiddies on this feast-day, some juvenile POD just for the occasion. (Source.)