February 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 7

Saint of the Month

St. Jerome Emiliani - February 8

Born Girolamo Emiliani in 1481, Jerome's youth lacked righteousness and religion. It was not until he served in the Venetian army and was taken prisoner that he began to devote his life to God.

Image of Jerome Emiliani

As a powerful commander in charge of a fortress, Jerome felt he did not need God. But when he was captured and cast into a dungeon by enemies of Venice, the League of Cambrai, Jerome began to feel God's strength.

Bound in heavy chains and shut in a dark, dank cell, Jerome turned to prayer. It is said that his earnest prayers led to his miraculous escape. Jerome traveled to Treviso, but later returned to Venice to prepare for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1518 and devoted himself to helping children who had been abandoned or orphaned.

At the time, there were thousands in Venice suffering from famine and the plague. Jerome was especially drawn to the children who had lost all their family to sickness and starvation. He used his own resources and rented a house for the orphans, taking charge of their education and clothing and feeding them.

Jerome also founded orphanages in several towns as well as a hospital and a home for penitent prostitutes. He began a new Congregation called the Clerks of Regular of Somasca whose members looked after the peasants living near the village. Succumbing to fatal disease while caring for the sick, Jerome died on February 8, 1537. The Congregation carried on its valuable work and continues to run schools and orphanages in Italy today.

Dear and loving Father,
there are so many children who are running from broken homes,
who are missing while their parents' hearts are breaking.
Dear loving Father,
take these abandoned youths into Your hearts
and protect them from the streets and from any danger that nears them.
Inspire people to adopt children who have nothing else
and give us the spirit of St. Jerome to protect the children of our community.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives