Caravaggio, ( Michelangelo Merisi ) (b. 1571, Caravaggio, d. 1610, Porto Ercole)
St Jerome in Meditation
Oil on canvas, 118 x 81 cm
Museum of the Monastery of Santa Maria, Monserrat (Museo del Monasterio de Santa Maria).
"In reality, to dialogue with God, with his Word, is in a certain sense a presence of Heaven, a presence of God.
To draw near to the biblical texts, above all the New Testament, is essential for the believer, because "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ". ...
Truly "in love" with the Word of God, he [St Jerome] asked himself: "How could one live without the knowledge of Scripture, through which one learns to know Christ himself, who is the life of believers?" (Ep. 30, 7).
The Bible, an instrument "by which God speaks every day to the faithful" (Ep. 133, 13), thus becomes a stimulus and source of Christian life for all situations and for each person.
To read Scripture is to converse with God: "If you pray", he writes to a young Roman noblewoman, "you speak with the Spouse; if you read, it is he who speaks to you" (Ep. 22, 25).
The study of and meditation on Scripture renders man wise and serene (cf. In Eph., Prol.)"
From the Speech of Pope Benedict XVI on The Life of St Jerome (Part 2) at the General Audience in Saint Peter's Square on Wednesday, 14 November 2007
Caravaggio painted St Jerome at least eight times. He was a popular Saint of that day.
It is thought that this painting was commissioned by Caravaggio's patron the banker Vincenzo Giustiniani and his brother, Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani (1554-1621)
The model for St Jerome seems to be the same one whom Caravaggio used for the painting of St Jerome Writing now in the Galeria Borghese in Rome.