I spoke about St Jerome and his love of the word of God and his writing of the Vulgate, this morning, in passing I mention the Pope, an Honorius I think, who passing an icon of the saint, in penitential mode, beating his breast, the Pope is said to have muttered, “O Jerome, if it were not for those stone, this day you would not be enjoying the joys of heaven but the very depths of hell”. I pointed out that Jerome gives us hope because he was so bad tempered and yet easily placated, the first because of nature the second because of what he read in scripture.
“But what about the Lion,” some asked me after Mass. I avoided mentioning the Lion, it sounds a bit like the Aesop fable to me. On reflection I think the Lion is a sign of the growling violence of Jerome’s nature, the same nature that drove him to so much effort on behalf of Christ and against heresy, something which could erupt and destroy, something hair triggered, and yet the lion was under the control of his master. In a way the lion, in images of St Jerome, is Jerome himself, Jerome is Christ. It is all about nature controlled by grace. The animal in all of us controlled by the love of God.