Analysis: Leonardo’s “St. Jerome”

In earlier posts, “Da Vinci Code ‘Evidence’ Debunked,” “Analysis: Leonardo’s Mona Lisa,” and “Mona Lisa Mystery Solved,” we touched on the fact that Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings often include occulted elements in their design. This is especially true of St. Jerome in the Wilderness, circa 1480 (see Image File #41). PluribusOne™ has concluded that the St. Jerome painting served to record and preserve certain secret knowledge shared by a small and exclusive group, knowledge related to something not displayed in the painting itself—knowledge related to the Ark of the Covenant built under Moses’ direction and “lost” in the days of the Babylonians’ destruction of the First Temple, the Temple of Solomon. 

A careful study of the ancient scriptures—a review too lengthy to recount here—revealed that the Ark and certain associated sacred objects eluded capture by the Babylonians, that the Ark was removed from the Temple by the prophet Jeremiah shortly before that invasion. Although we are not the first to realize that Jeremiah rescued the Ark, no other researchers have, to our knowledge, recognized the geographical hiding place chosen by Jeremiah. He returned the Ark to the vicinity of its construction, near the southern end of the Sinai Peninsula. It remained hidden even after the Temple was rebuilt. 

A painting on walnut, by a renowned artist, is an excellent way to preserve and “openly conceal” secret and taboo information. Some time after the St. Jerome painting was made, and after it was reworked in 1510—and probably after Leonardo’s death in 1519 as well—it was cut into seven pieces, apparently for distribution among select members of a secret group. It is unlikely that the five parts (those recognized by the Vatican Museums) would have been so readily retrievable for substantial reassembly otherwise. Like putting together a puzzle, five pieces were gathered into two, then two into one, and some restoration was done. However, as in the case of the Mona Lisa painting, key information trimmed from the two sides has never been rejoined. Those pieces might fully identify its provenance. The patron, if any, remains unidentified. 

What exactly is the painting’s message? To begin, it does not show Jerome in the Syrian Desert as generally believed; the landscape depicted is the Sinai wilderness, with Mt. Sinai—reflecting the biblical description—shown in the distance along with a hint of the Red Sea. That Jeremiah put the Ark inside a cave is indicated by the cave opening at Jerome’s left and by his posture, his “body language,” which was altered in the 1510 reworking. The lion’s mouth form’s the Hebrew letter “bet,” which means “house,” further indicating that Jerome is pointing himself toward the House of God, a term associated with the Church but, before that, with the Temple, the Ark, and Mt. Sinai. The lion symbolized the House of David, and during King David’s rule the Ark had been present on fields of combat. 

How can we know that Jerome knew the Ark’s secret hiding place? In part, because Jerome was a Romanized Jew of priestly bloodline, a leader in the Cult of Mithras, the fourth degree of which was known as the “Lion,” and lions, such as Jerome, had access to the guarded mysteries. More directly revealing is that Jerome’s translation of the Jewish Tanak (Christian “Old Testament”) includes books deemed non-canonical even today, and in his translation of 2 Maccabees is found the story of prophet Jeremiah removing the Ark, the tabernacle, and the altar of incense—taking them to the same mountain that Moses had ascended, for the purpose of hiding them in a “hollow cave.” 

Somehow, maestro Leonardo knew the truth about Saint Jerome’s tabooed Tanak translation, and the place where the Ark of the Covenant had been secretly stowed.

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5 Responses to “Analysis: Leonardo’s “St. Jerome””

  1. Sara B. Says:

    Isn’t it well known that Jerome did spend a long time in the Syrian desert?

  2. PluribusOne™ Says:

    Yes, but he was a young man at the time, about twenty-eight to early thirties. The Jerome in the painting is comparatively old. Jerome lived to be about seventy-three. He appears to be sixty-something in the painting.

  3. Sara B. Says:

    Do you think the Ark is still in that cave?

  4. PluribusOne™ Says:

    No. Yet we are also reasonably certain that it was neither retrieved from there in recent centuries nor in St. Jerome’s day (347-420). For now, we are withholding evidence that the Ark was moved from the mountain in the mid-6th century AD, prior to subsequent relocations. It is our belief, based on excellent circumstantial evidence, that the Ark is presently located in the USA.

  5. Craig Luce Says:

    There is surprisingly little notation on this enigmatic work, which is little more than a sketch revised on the support. Please direct us to evidence that this painting was “reworked in 1510.” Moreover, please provide a photo of the reverse of St.Jerome. Is there anything in its mention in Kaufman’s will indicates it was intact then?

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