A favorite fresco is that of St. Jerome by Domenico Ghirlandaio in the church of Ognissanti in Florence, Italy. It’s an elaborate renaissance (1480) depiction of Jerome that tells you he was a doctor of the church, famous for translating the bible into Latin.
St. Jerome was really a 5TH century ascetic scholar who legend says once lived in the same cave where Jesus was born. But, no matter, because what we think is striking about the painting is its capturing of a precise moment in time versus a static portrait of St. Jerome. Jerome has stopped his work and inquisitively looked up and out. One wonders what has interrupted his life’s work.
We know from his writings, in response to the refugee crisis upon the sack of Rome, that he said, “I have put aside all study. For today we must translate the precepts of the Scriptures into deeds; instead of speaking saintly words we must act on them.” St. Jerome, so close to the Lord and attuned to the movement of the Holy Spirit, is perhaps shown in this fresco at a moment of immediate and decisive discernment, resulting in abandoning his scholarly mission and acting on a call to the more, the most.
Am I growing in my closeness to Jesus that I may be keenly aware of and ready to act on his call to the more, the most?
—Marty Massiello, a hospital administrator, and Jeff Weyant, an artist and designer, work in Palm Springs CA. They are members of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church and active at Verbum Dei, the Cristo Rey high school in Los Angeles CA.