St. Jerome Emiliani
by americancatholic.org | Source: americancatholic.org
A careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice, Jerome was captured in a
skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon. In prison Jerome had a lot of time to think,
and he gradually learned how to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice where he took charge of
the education of his nephews—and began his own studies for the priesthood.
In the years after his
ordination, events again called Jerome to a decision and a new lifestyle. Plague and famine swept
northern Italy. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. While
serving the sick and the poor, he soon resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others,
particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes
and a hospital.
Around 1532 Jerome and two other priests established a congregation, the Clerks Regular of
Somasca, dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. Jerome died in 1537 from a
disease he caught while tending the sick. He was canonized in 1767. In 1928 Pius Xl named him the
patron of orphans and abandoned children.
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