Saturday, 29 September 2012

All the Pretty Lions...

File:Ignatius of Antioch 2.jpgWhile preparing tomorrow's Dead Bishop post I came across this picture on a blog.

Apparently it shows the martyrdom of St Ignatius of Antioch, who was eaten (you've guessed it) by lions.  Now I knew that there was a St Ignatius of Antioch and that he was a Father of the Church.  I suppose I might even have known that he was a martyr. What I didn't know was that he was fed to the lions in the Colosseum and that his letters were written from captivity:
From Syria even to Rome I fight with wild beasts, by land and sea, by night and by day, being bound amidst ten leopards, even a company of soldiers, who only grow worse when they are kindly treated. — Ignatius to the Romans, 5.

Until today, if you'd showed me a picture of a bishop with a a lion, I would have taken it to be St Jerome.  His association with a lion is a lot more tenuous, owing more to the fable of Androcles and the Lion than anything else and seems to originate with the Legenda Aurea.  There you go - I've learnt something today.

File:Colantonio 003.jpg
St Jerome's Lion is much friendlier

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