Lifelong CatechesisForming Catholic identity across generations
Forty days before the Triduum, the Lenten season disposes Catechumens and the faithful to celebrate the paschal mystery through prayer and penitential practices.
Jerome Emiliani, Religious, 1481-1537
Jerome was born in Venice and became a soldier for that city-state. As commander of the League of Cambrai forces at Castelnuevo, Jerome was captured and imprisoned when that outpost town fell in battle. He spent the time in prison thinking about his life and learning how to pray. Jerome escape from prison, and returned to Venice where he began his studies for the priesthood to which he was ordained in 1518.
The years which followed saw much plague and famine in Europe. While aiding the victims of this pestilence, Jerome became especially affected by the condition of orphans and decided to devote himself to helping them. He founded several orphanages and a hospital. Around 1532, Jerome and two other priests founded a congregation which became known as the Clerks Regular of Somascha (named after the town in which their first house was established). The order was dedicated to the care of orphans, and to educating children and priests.
Jerome died in 1537 of an infectious disease which he caught while ministering to its victims. St. Jerome is the patron saint of abandoned children and orphans. An optional memorial honors this saint on February 8.
Jerome’s message today: Jerome was a good and caring person, even a heroic one. Though we may not be able to help abandoned children and orphans in the same manner as he did, we all know someone who has been abandoned by friends or family, or who is spiritually “orphaned.” We, like Jerome, can reach out to these abandoned ones.