|"Ghirlandaio, Domenico: Saint Jerome in His Study". Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.|
Jerome was not a very affable monk. He had a low tolerance for wickedness and errors, and he wasn't shy about pointing them out in his writing. This tendency did not win him many friends. At one point he headed out to the desert for a few years (he took his books with him). He also spent some time as Pope Damascus' secretary. Later, he founded a monastery near Bethlehem.
My favorite story about St. Jerome is of dubious authenticity, but I like it, so I'm going to tell it, anyway. According to the legend, St. Jerome was translating in his library one day when a lion limped into the workroom. The other monks reacted much as most of us would-- they tore out of the room as quickly as possible. Jerome was unfazed. As the lion approached him, he noticed a thorn in its paw. Jerome pulled out the thorn, winning him the undying loyalty of the lion, which protected him and his monastery thereafter. One story even claimed that the reason so many libraries have lion statues out front is that they are in memory of St. Jerome's lion.
I don't know if St. Jerome and his lion really have anything to do with Patience and Fortitude sitting outside of the NYPL, but I like the idea. I've told Dr. Stanley that Reeves really needs to get a lion or two.
In the meantime, my desk could benefit from this in case anyone is looking for a birthday present for me come August:
Sources and further reading:
Saint Jerome in Encyclopædia Britannica
Saint of the Day, St. Jerome from American Catholic http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/saint.aspx?id=1154
St. Jerome at Catholic Online