By Denise Trull
Happy Feast of St Jerome, the unofficial patron saint of Curmudgeons everywhere!
This painting of him that my son David gave me a few years back is on my den wall. It is one of my favorites because I have a real respect and soft spot for St. Jerome and his curmudgeonly ways. Perhaps I might have been afraid of him, but I don’t really think so. Curmudgeons fascinate me somehow. They just want things to be RIGHT. They can never be accused of mediocrity!
He had to conquer his ferocious personality in order to become a saint. He was crabby, bossy, competitive with his fellow scholars....he did not suffer fools gladly, as he had a very fine intellect and the pride to match. He didn’t suffer his fellow, preening philosopher colleagues gladly, either. He could hold a grudge forever if they dared question his ideas or try to one up him. Testosterone doesn’t just exist on the football field. Philosophers feel it too!
BUT he overcame this combative spirit little by little. Having a skull on your desk might be a great daily reminder that curmudgeons do not inherit the kingdom of Heaven!
He did have one, delightful soft spot, however, and for this I love him most of all. He had a great love and respect for gentle, holy women. Oddly enough, he was helped in his monumental work of translating the Bible by several patient women friends, and they were able to tame him a bit and delighted in talking with him about the highest things. He loved and respected them as persons, and somehow he never scared them. I find it so charming that God gave him that one, unusual gift! He said this about them:
"Study had brought about constant companionship, companionship comfortableness, and comfortableness a sense of mutual trust.”
I love his face, his hands, and all the light and color in this painting.
St Jerome, pray for us!
* Saint Jerome Writing--Caravaggio