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Saint Jerome Emiliani
Born 1481, Venice
Died February 8, 1537, Somasca
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1747 by Pope Benedict XIV
Canonized 1767 by Pope Clement XIII
Feast February 8
July 20 (General Roman Calendar, 1769-1969)
Patronage orphans and abandoned children

Saint Jerome Emiliani (Italian: Gerolamo Emiliani also Jerome Aemilian, Hiëronymus Emiliani) (1481 – February 8, 1537), was an Italian humanitarian, founder of the Somaschi Fathers, and saint. He was canonized in 1767 and is the patron saint of orphans.[1]



Jerome was born in Venice, the son of Angelo Emiliani (popularly called Miani) and Eleonore Mauroceni. He joined the army and, in 1508, defended Castelnuovo against the League of Cambray. Taken prisoner and miraculously liberated, he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Treviso, in fulfillment of a vow. He was then appointed podestà (Venetian magistrate) of Castelnuovo, but after a short time returned to Venice to supervise the education of his nephews. All his spare time was devoted to the study of theology and to works of charity.

After his ordination to the priesthood in 1518, the hospitals and the hovels of the poor were his favorite resorts. In the year of plague and famine (1528), he seemed to be everywhere, and showed his zeal, especially for the orphans, whose number had so greatly increased. He rented a house for them near the church of St. Rose and, with the assistance of some pious laymen, ministered to their wants. To his charge was also committed the hospital for incurables, founded by St. Cajetan. In 1531 he went to Verona and induced the citizens to build a hospital; at Brescia and at Bergamo, he erected orphanages, one for boys and another for girls. Here also he founded the first home for fallen women who wished to do penance.

Two priests, Alessandro Besuzio and Agostino Bariso, now joined him in his labors of charity, and in 1532 Gerolamo founded a religious society, placing the motherhouse at Somasca, a secluded North Italian hamlet in the Comune of Vercurago between Milan and Bergamo, after which the members became known as Somaschi. In the rule, Gerolamo stated the principal work of the community was the care of orphans, poor and sick, and demanded that dwellings, food and clothing would bear the mark of religious poverty.

St Jerome fell a martyr to his zeal; contracting a disease at Bergamo, he died at Somasca in 1537.


He was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1747, and canonized by Pope Clement XIII in 1767. The Office and Mass in his honor were approved eight years later. He was thus not included in the 1570 Tridentine Calendar. When inserted in the Roman Calendar in 1769, he was assigned the date of 20 July. In 1969, Pope Paul VI moved his feast to the day of his death, 8 February.[2]

External links

Sources and references

  1. ^ "St. Jerome Emiliani". Catholic Encyclopedia.  
  2. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vatican), pages 87 and 130

This article incorporates text from the public-domain Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913.



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