Saint Jerome

Agostino Carracci (Italian, 1557 – 1602)
circa 1602
Sheet : 15 5/16 x 10 7/8 in. (38.89 x 27.62 cm)
Mat : 24 x 20 in. (60.96 x 50.8 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
Object Number

Born in the Roman province of Dalmatia along the Adriatic Sea, Saint Jerome (347-420) was an early church father famous for his theological writings and for translating the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. In 385, Jerome made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to visit the places where Christ and the Apostles had lived. He later spent several years as an ascetic wandering, studying and praying in the deserts of Egypt and Syria. Jerome’s writings about these experiences helped to establish the act of pilgrimage as a legitimate and important Christian spiritual practice. This print depicts Saint Jerome as an ascetic contemplating a crucifix in a rocky landscape. The lion visible in the background refers to a much later story in which Jerome is said to have adopted a lion as his companion in the desert after healing a wound on the animal’s paw. The cardinal’s hat and robe by the saint’s feet are another anachronistic reference to Jerome’s status as a Doctor of the Church. During the Counter-Reformation movement of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Roman Catholic Church exalted Saint Jerome as a heroic defender of the faith. This print by the Italian artist Agostino Carracci emphasizes the heroic aspect of Jerome by portraying him with unnaturally exaggerated muscles that make him look like a Greek or Roman god more than a highly spiritual hermit-priest.

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