While 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.
|St Jerome's Lion is much friendlier|