Saint Jerome Emiliani was a member of one of the patrician families of Venice, and, like many other Saints, in early life a soldier. He was appointed governor of a fortress among the mountains of Treviso, and whilst bravely defending his post was made prisoner by the enemy. In the misery of his dungeon he invoked the great Mother of God, and promised if she would set him free to lead a new and a better life. Our Lady appeared, broke his fetters, and led him forth through the midst of his enemies. At Treviso he hung up his chains at her altar, dedicated himself to her service, and on reaching his home at Venice, devoted himself to a life of active charity. His special love was for the deserted orphan children whom, in the times of the plague and famine, he found wandering in the streets. He took them home, clothed and fed them, and taught them the Christian truths. From Venice he passed to Padua and Verona, and in a few years had founded orphanages through Northern Italy. Some pious clericsand laymen, whohad been his fellow-workers, fixed their abode in one of these establishments, and devoted themselves to the cause of education. The Saint drew up for them a rule of life, and thus was founded the Congregation, which still exists, of the Clerks Regular of Somascha. Saint Jerome died 8 February 1537 of an illness which he had caught in visiting the sick.
Let us learn from Saint Jerome to exert ourselves in behalf of the many hundred children whose souls are perishing around us for want of some one to show them the way to heaven.
We are bound to plead for children, since they cannot speak for themselves, and to labour that they be not deprived of the grace of Christ, which they cannot by their own efforts obtain. – Saint Augustine
Saint Jerome’s orphans assembled each morning for Mass and twice daily for catechism. The workhours, in which they were trained for some special trade, were relieved by litanies, hymns, rosaries, and reading aloud. While washing their hands before meals they recited the Miserere for the Holy Souls. They confessed monthly, and on great feasts went in procession, clothed in white, singing litanies, to some principal church. The sight of their innocence and piety effected numerous conversions, and the Saint used to say that whenever he wanted any special grace from God, he would make four of his orphans under eight years of age pray for it, and that he had never yet been refused what they had thus asked for.
The ear that heard me blessed me, and the eye that saw me gave witness to me, because I had delivered the poor man that cried out, and the fatherless that had no helper. – Job 29:11,12
- Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Saint Jerome Emiliani”. , 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 27 February 2015. Web. 30 April 2017. <>