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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Sunday, April 07, 2013

a cat big and tender: st jerome's lion

thanks wikimedia commons {PD}
This is Pietro Perugino's San Girolamo Penitente (Penitent Saint Jerome) of circa 1473.  At first I thought, what a delicate, contemplative piece, and then I was struck by two things:
 - Jerome is beating himself upon the chest with a rock; those are drops of blood on his chest, as bright as rubies.  This isn't a rare occurrence by any means in tales of the saints; in fact it's mild compared to some of the self-mortifications holy folk would undergo.
 - His faithful pet lion, constant companion since Jerome drew a thorn from its paw, peeking out with such sweetness.  Here's a detail.

I think this big cat is sad that his beloved master is doing this to himself when he showed such love to even a scary wounded lion. Part of the whole Jerome/lion story - too long to really talk about, but you can read it here - speaks of the lion's being so grateful for help that he humbled himself to do daily chores for Jerome.  So there's the theme of pride being brought down, as Jerome would try to do within himself.  It was also thought that the lion could sleep with its eyes open and so stood for eternal vigilance.  Too bad he couldn't speak to Jerome. I would like to know what he would have said.

1 comment:

Bernadette said...

Don't our pets often do this for us in one way or another?