Saint Jerome Emilani


Saint Jerome was born in 1486, in Veince and was the son of Angelo and Eleonore. When his father died, Saint Jerome was only fifteen and in rebellion to his mother ran away from home to join the Ventian army. After defending Castelnuovo against the League of Cambray in 1508, he was appointed governor of a fortress in Treviso. During the siege against the fortress, he was taken prisoner prayed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary for help (he had been atheist until then). When he was able to escape, he credited her for her intercession on his behalf and took a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Treviso.


It was here at the shrine that he left the chains that previously held him in bondage from the enemy and was appointed soon after podesta of Castelnuovo di Quero. He was called hom to Venice to take care of his nephew and began dedicating all of his spare time to the study of theology and charity. During the plague and famine of 1528, he began spending his own money to help care and feed orphans. Soon he began to travel, first to Verona to build a hospital then to Brescia, Bergamo and Milan erecting orphanages in each town.


In 1532, Saint Jerome worked together with two other priests, Alessandro Besuzio and Agostino Bariso to found the religious society known as the Congregation of Regular Clerics with it's motherhouse at the town of Somasca. Informally, the group became known as the Somaschi due to the town's name. The principal work of the new group was to care for the orphans, poor and sick. All dwellings, food and clothing of the group would bear the mark of religious poverty. Saint Jerome entrusted the congregation to Virgin Mary, Holy Spirit, and the Archangel Raphael. Pope Paul III approved the congregation in 1540 with the official name "Clerici Regulares S. Majoli Papiae Congregationis Somaschae".


Saint Jerome died in Somasca, on February 8th, 1537 while helping the sick during another plague outbreak. Pope Benedict XIV beatified him in 1747 and Saint Jerome was formally canonized by Pope Clement XIII on July 16th, 1767. His feast day was originally inserted into the Roman Calendar in 1769 with a date of July 20th, but was moved to the date of his death, February 8th, in 1969 by Pope Paul VI. Saint Jerome is honored as the patron Saint of orphans and abandoned children, a patronage given by Pope Pius XI in 1928.


Saint Jerome's name in Italian is Gerolamo Emiliani

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