Above: St. Jerome Emiliani
Image in the Public Domain
SAINT JEROME EMILIANI (1481-FEBRUARY 8, 1537)
Founder of the Company of the Servants of the Poor
St. Jerome Emiliani, like Blessed Josephina Gabriella Bonino, whose feast day is also February 8, cared for the ill, the poor, and the orphaned.
Emiliani arrived at this vocation by a circuitous route. The native of Venice came from a wealthy family. His father, Angelo, died when our saint was 15 years old. Young Jerome ran away from home and led a dissolute life. In 1506 he became a solider. Five years later, during the War of the League of Cambrai (1508-1516), Emiliani became a prisoner of war chained in a dungeon. He broke his chains after praying to Our Lady for help. Our saint gave her credit for his freedom. Eventually Emiliani decided to study for the priesthood. Along the way to that vocation our saint supervised the education of his nephews and served as the Mayor of Treviso.
Emiliani, ordained in 1518, spent much of the rest of his life helping people affected by one pestilence or another. The parts of Italy where Emiliani resided were prone to a series of plagues in the 1500s. He cared for the sick, took orphans into his home, and buried those who had died unattended on the streets. Our saint founded six orphanages, a hospital, and a shelter for former prostitutes in northern Italy. At the city of Somasca Emiliani founded the Company of the Servants of the Poor, also known as the Order of Somaschi, the Somascan Fathers, and the Regular Clergy of Somasca, to care for orphans, in 1532. Papal approval of the order followed eight years later. Another accomplishment of Emiliani was pioneering the question-and-answer technique of catechesis.
Emiliani died at Somasca, Italy, on February 8, 1537. He had contracted an illness while ministering to the sick. Pope Benedict XIV beatified our saint in 1747. Pope Clement XIII canonized him 20 years later.
Emiliani is the patron saint of orphans and abandoned people.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
NOVEMBER 29, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF GEORGE DAWSON, ENGLISH BAPTIST AND UNITARIAN PASTOR
THE FEAST OF THE INAUGURATION OF THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA, 1970
THE FEAST OF JENNETTE THRELFALL, ENGLISH HYMN WRITER
O God, by whose grace your servant St. Jerome Emiliani,
kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church:
Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,
and walk before you as children of light;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168
2 Corinthians 6:1-10
–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723