Jerome Emiliani was born in Venice, Italy, in 1481. He became a soldier and eventually was made a commander of a fortress in Treviso. When this fortress fell to the Venetians, he was captured and imprisoned. It was during this time spent in a dark, damp cell that Jerome had time to reflect upon his life. He had never given much thought to God and had always felt very much in charge of his own life. He realized, however, that stripped of his army and weapons he was helpless. He called out to God in his weakness and God responded. Suddenly Jerome’s mind and heart were freed. His life had changed. Jerome was able to escape the dungeon in which he was being held captive and returned to Venice where he was ordained a priest in 1518. He began caring for and ministering to many famine and plague victims, and soon came to focus his attention on the many children who had been orphaned by these epidemics. Using his own money to rent a house for the orphans, he began feeding, clothing and educating them. He helped them learn their faith through the method of question and answer. He later founded orphanages at Brescia, Bergamo, and Como, as well as a hospital at Verona and a home for repentant prostitutes. In the year 1532, Jerome, along with two other priests, founded a congregation known as the Clerks Regular of Somascha. Jerome’s constant devotion to the poor and sick took its toil on his health, and in 1537, while helping others, he fell ill and died at the age of 56.
Jerome devoted his life to helping others, especially children, and therefore is known as the patron saint of abandoned children and orphans.
Saint Jerome Emiliani, please pray that we are good guardians of our children who are gifts from God. Help us to love them and protect them from the evils of this present age and to nourish them in their faith as you did. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Josephine Bakhita (1947), Virgin, Religious
St. John of Matha (1213), Priest, Founder of the Trinitarians