Jerome’s lion—or cat?

Saint Jerome (circa 342–420) was famous for producing the Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible. The studious man never married, and he became the patron saint of scholars. In the many paintings and sculptures of Jerome, he is shown writing at his desk, with his favorite pet nearby. Sometimes the pet is a cat, sometimes a lion—based on the legend that he pulled a thorn from a lion’s paw and that the lion became devoted to him afterward. We can probably assume that his real pet was a cat, not a lion. Considering how many writers are fond of cats, it is appropriate that Jerome, the patron of bookish types, would have owned one.
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