Scenes from the Life of St. Jerome

9th century
Manuscript illustration
Bible of Charles the Bald
Bibliothéque Nationale MS. Lat 1 fol. 423v
10.8 x 19.5 in. (37.5 x 49.5 cm.)

In the upper register St. Jerome travels the sea from Rome to Jerusalem. At a gate in Rome a small figure wears the same white mantle over a brown tunic that we see on Paula and Eustochium in the middle register. This person could be Paula, who provided the funds for the monasteries that Jerome instituted in Jerusalem (Butler, 689). The money bag he is shown handing to someone on the right may represent those funds. Or it is possible that the figure in women's clothing is Jerome himself. According to the much later account in the Golden Legend, his enemies tricked him into putting on women's clothes when he rose for the "matins" prayer in the dark before morning.

In the middle register St. Jerome is in the center teaching Paula, her daughter Eustochium, and the companions who had traveled with them to Jerusalem to enter the monastery that Jerome founded (Butler, ibid.). On the right some of his colleagues work on biblical manuscripts from a tiered book cabinet.

In the lower register St. Jerome distributes copies of his translations from scripture to his monks from a pair of chests at his feet. The men then take the copies to churches, presumably for use in the liturgy. The Latin below the register, as well as the image of monks at work on manuscripts in the middle register, suggest that he is distributing the fruits of all their labors, as a Germanic king receives and then distributes treasures gained in battle by his comitatus.

Dutton and Kessler translate the inscriptions below the three registers as follows:

Read more about images of St. Jerome.

Source: this page at Wikimedia Commons.

1 Dutton and Kessler, 112-13. The editors render the Latin as Exit Hieronimus Roma condiscere verba / Hierusalem Hebraeae legis honorificae // Eustochio nec non Paulae divina salutis / Iura dat altithrono fultus ubique deo // Hieronimus translata sui, quae transtulit, almus / Ollis hic tribuit, quis ea conposuit.