10 Christianity and Renaissance Culture

St. Jerome in context

Developments we have seen in Renaissance art:
humanist study
Horace: “ut pictura poesis”

Saints and their lives
Why is that painting there? Why choose to pray there and not elsewhere?

Ex: Girolamo Genga (Urbino 1476-1551), Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (Uffizi)

Who are saints?
some: alive during Jesus’ life
exx: apostles, Holy family

Raphael, Holy Family with St. Elizabeth and Young St. John, ca. 1505

martyrs; bishops; legendary figures with folk tales; local holy people

Raphael, St. George and the Dragon, 1505

choice: why ask for help from a given saint

  • local tradition
  • profession or problem

ex: St. Joseph and carpenters


El Greco (1541-1614) St. Joseph and Child Jesus

St. Lucy and eye trouble

Bellini Madonna

Giovanni Bellini, Madonna and Child with SS. Peter, Catherine, Lucy, Jerome (1505)

religious order
“political” reasons
–ex: Medici family S. Lawrence, Cosmas and Damian


Bernardo Daddi (fl. c. 1320-80), Martyrdom of St. Lawrence. Florence, S. Croce, Pulci and Berardi Chapel


Tomb of Galla Placidia (5th c): St. Lawrence

Cosmas Damian

Fra Angelico, 1390-1455. San Marco Altarpiece, Decapitation of SS.Cosmas and Damian

exemplify qualities seen to be important
for local clergy
for lay people


What did the humanists see in him?
biblical scholar—translator of the Vulgate


Jerome Giovanni Bellini: detail, Madonna and Saints

scholar of ancient letters who was also a Christian

Antonello da Messina (1420-1479): St. Jerome in his Study

hermit wrestling with demons: inner spirituality, internal personal crises

Bosch, Hieronymus, 1440-1516, St. Jerome in Prayer

Leonardo da Vinci, St. Jerome, c1483

Humanists and religion

lay or clerical
humanists as editors and translators.
humanists as writers about modern experience
subjects: ex: mourning and consolation
genres: poetry, letters
professional divide: theology degrees
Exx: Brandolini; Lorenzo Valla (ca 1407-57)
patristic revival

Church and spread of humanist studies

Roman curia
Theology faculties
dissent and debate

Northern European trends

not at first related to humanist movement
Beguines (Beghards)
German, Flemish cities
Decline ca. 1400


Beguinage, Tongeren (Belgium) founded 1257 Tongeren

Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life
Gerhard Groote (1340-84) of Deventer; son of cloth merchant
Sisters: no vows or habit
promise to serve God, to live simply, to work for their living
Houses for men; spread through N. Europe
Close relationship with Augustinians

elevation of lay life
emphasis on personal devotion
individual reading of the bible, church fathers, other devotional works