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Saint Jerome Emiliani

Saint Jerome Emiliani
  • Century: 15th & 16th Century
  • Patronage: Orphans, Abandoned Children
  • Feast Day: February 8th

St. Jerome was born in Venice, Italy.  He was the son of Angelo Emiliani and Eleonore Mauroceni.  He joined the army and in 1508 defended Castelnuovo against the League of Cambray.  He was taken prisoner during that battle and was miraculously liberated.  He had made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Treviso, in fulfillment of a vow he had made to Our Lady for his returning safely.  He was appointed as the Venetian Magistrate of Castelnuovo, but only stayed in that position a short time, to supervise the education of his nephews back in Venice.  He spent his spare time studying theology and to the works of charity.  

The hospitals and shelters for the poor were his favorite spots.  In 1528, the year of the plague and famine, he showed his zeal helping everyone he could, with a special care for the orphans who’s number were increasing.  To better care for these, he rented a house near the Church of St. Rose.  With the assistance of some pious laymen, he ministered to all their needs.  He was also entrusted with the terminally ill from the hospital.  To aid in the growing numbers of orphans, he erected orphanages for boys and girls in Brescia, Bergamo, and Milan.  

Fr. Alessandro Besuzio and Fr. Agostino Bariso joined him in his works of charity.  In 1532, St. Jerome founded a religious society, with the motherhouse at Somasca, Italy. The members became known as Somaschi.  In the Rule of this Society, St. Jerome stated the principal work of the community was the care of orphans, the poor and sick, and demanded that the Societies dwellings, food and clothing would always bear the mark of religious poverty.   St. Jerome fell a martyr to his zeal, and contracted a disease at Bergamo.  He died at Somasca in 1537.  He was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1747 and was canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1767.  Originally his Feast Day was on July 20th, but Pope Paul VI moved his Feast Day to the day of his death, February 8th.  

Practical Take Away

St. Jerome Emiliani was born in Venice, Italy.  He joined the army and was taken as a prisoner of war.  He was miraculously released, and gave his life to Our Lady in charity.  He returned to Venice, and with the plague and famine leaving a growing number of orphans, he dedicated his life to helping these children.  He opened several Orphanages, and dedicated his life to serving them.  He died on February 8th.  He is the patron saint of Orphans and abandoned children.  He founded the Religious Society known as Somaschi.   Today, there are currently about 500 Somascans serving around the world.