The Hours of Henry VIII

The Hours of Henry VIII Jerome in Penance, f. 170r


Jerome in Penance, f. 170r

Jerome, the fourth-century Father of the Church, is most famous as translator of the Bible into Latin. While on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he decided to retire as a hermit in the Syrian desert. Temptation, in the form of visions of dancing maidens, tormented him. As seen in the miniature, the saint, to avoid sin, fled further into the wilderness (suggested by the distant landscape), where he threw himself into thorn bushes and beat his breast with a rock before a crucifix -- a prophylactic measure made easier by a hair shirt open at the chest. Other attributes are scattered around him: his cardinal’s hat and robes (an office that did not actually exist in Jerome’s time), and the lion from whose paw the saint had removed a painful thorn. (Feast day: September 30.)

Roger S. Wieck.
Curator, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts
The Morgan Library & Museum

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