Emiliani, Jerome, St.

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Founder of the Order of the Somaschi; b. Venice, Italy, 1486; d. Somascha (Bergamo), Feb. 8, 1537. The son of a patrician family headed by Angelo Emiliani and Eleonora Morosini, he served in the army of the Venetian Republic at Castelnuovo of Quero, where he was taken prisoner. Set free miraculously on Sept. 27, 1511, Jerome left his manacles in thanksgiving at the shrine of the Madonna Grande in Treviso. Joining the Oratory of Divine Love, founded by St. cajetan, he took care of the incurables in Venetian hospitals. Later he established institutions for orphans, giving them religious and civil education on a pattern that anticipated the present schools of arts and manual training. Using the question-and-answer method, he taught Christian doctrine to children and peasants, and later he was able to extend his work to Padua, Verona, Como, Milan, and Bergamo. He was joined in these labors by Alessandro Besuzzi and Agostino Barili. In 1534 with numerous other followers he founded the Society of the Servants for the Poor, which was approved in 1540 by paul iii and promoted to a religious order by St. pius v in 1568 as Clericorum Regularium a Somascha, with solemn vows, exemption, and the privileges of mendicants.

Jerome also devoted time to prayer and penance in a hermitage that he built in the mountains of Somascha. His spirituality is characterized by love of charity, imitation of Christ in his suffering, and devotion to the Guardian Angels and to the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Orphans. He was beatified by benedict xiv in 1747; canonized July 16, 1767 by clement xiii; and declared universal patron of orphans and abandoned children by pius xi, March 14, 1928.

Feast: Feb. 8 (formerly July 20).

Bibliography: Vita del clarissimo signor Girolamo Miani gentil huomo venetiano, tr. as Life of Jerome Emiliani, most distinguished Venetian nobleman, tr. Somaschi (Manchester, N.H. 1973). s. albani, Vita del venerabile e devoto servo di Iddio Ieronimo Miani (Milan 1600). a. tortora, Vita Hieronymi Aemiliani (Milan 1620). g. landini, S. Girolamo Miani (Rome 1947). San Girolamo Miani nel V centenario della nascita, ed. g. scarabello, et al. (Venice 1989). m. heimbucher, Die Orden und Kongregationender katholischen Kirche (Paderborn 19321934) 3:275278.

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