Born wealthy, the son of Angelo and Eleanor Mauroceni Emiliani; his father died when Jerome was a teenager, and he ran away from home at age 15. After a dissolute youth, he became a soldier in Venice, Italy in 1506 and commanded the League of Cambrai forces at the fortress of Castelnuovo in the mountains near Treviso, Italy.
Captured by Venetian forces on August 27, 1511, he was chained in a dungeon. He prayed to Our Lady for help, was miraculously freed by an apparition, and hung his chains on a church wall as an offering. Mayor of Treviso while studying for the priesthood; ordained in the spotted-fever plague year of 1518.
Cared for the sick, and housed orphans in his own home. At night he roamed the streets, burying those who had collapsed and died unattended. Jerome contracted the fever himself, but survived.
Founded six orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes, and a hospital. Founded the Order of Somaschi (Company of Servants of the Poor, or Somascan Fathers, or Regular Clergy of Somasca) c.1532, a congregation of clerks regular vowed to the care of orphans, and named after the town of Somasca where they started, and where they founded a seminary; the society was given approval by Pope Paul III in 1540, and continue their work today in a dozen countries.
Believed to have developed the question-and-answer catechism technique for teaching children religion; declared the patron of orphans and abandoned children in 1928 by Pope Pius XI.
Born •1481 at Venice, Italy; Died •8 February 1537 in Italy of a disease caught when tending the sick; beatified •29 September 1747 by Pope Benedict XIV, Canonized •16 July 1767 by Pope Clement XIII. (http://www.sqpn.com/)
* * *
O God, Father of mercies, who sent Saint Jerome Emiliani as a helper and father to orphans, grant, through his intercession, that we may preserve faithfully the spirit of adoption, by which we are called, and truly are, your children. Through our Lord.