St. Jerome Emiliani
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.
Comment:Very often in our lives it seems to take some kind of “imprisonment” to free us from the shackles of our self-centeredness. When we’re “caught” in some situation we don’t want to be in, we finally come to know the liberating power of Another. Only then can we become another for “the imprisoned” and “the orphaned” all around us.
“‘The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity; only rebels remain in the parched land’ (Psalm 68).... We should not forget the growing number of persons who are often abandoned by their families and by the community: the old, orphans, the sick and all kinds of people who are rejected…. We must be prepared to take on new functions and new duties in every sector of human activity and especially in the sector of world society, if justice is really to be put into practice. Our action is to be directed above all at those men and nations which, because of various forms of oppression and because of the present character of our society, are silent, indeed voiceless, victims of injustice” (Justice in the World, 1971 World Synod of Bishops).
Patron Saint of:
Orphans, abandoned children
Today also in the Latin Calendar we commemorate S.Margaret of Antioch.
Saint Margaret, whose feast is celebrated on July 20, is a virgin and martyr. She is also called "Marina". Margaret belonged to Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor, where her father was a pagan priest. Her mother died soon after Margaret's birth, so she was nursed by a pious woman who lived about five or six leagues from Antioch. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, she was disowned by her father and adopted by her nurse.
One day, while she was engaged in watching the flocks of her mistress, a lustful Roman prefect named Olybrius caught sight of her, and attracted by her great beauty sought to make her his concubine or wife. When neither cajolery nor threats of punishment could succeed in moving her to yield to his desires, he had her brought before him in public trial at Antioch. Threatened with death unless she renounced the Christian faith, the holy virgin refused to adore the gods of the empire. An attempt was made to burn her, but the flames, we are told in her Acts, left her unharmed. She was then bound hand and foot and thrown into a cauldron of boiling water, but at her prayer her bonds were broken and she stood up uninjured. Finally the prefect ordered her to be beheaded.
The Greek Church honors her under the name Marine on July13, and the Latin, as Margaret on July 20. Her Acts place her death in the persecution of Diocletian (A.D. 303-5), but in fact even the century to which she belonged is uncertain. St. Margaret is represented in art sometimes as a shepherdess, or as leading a chained dragon, again carrying a little cross or a girdle in her hand, or standing by a large vessel which recalls the cauldron into which she was plunged. Relics said to belong to the saint are venerated in very many parts of Europe; at Rome, Montefiascone, Brusels, Bruges, Paris, Froidmont, Troyes, and various other places. Curiously enough this virgin has been widely venerated for many centuries as a special patron of women who are pregnant.
According to tradition, St. Peter sent Apollinaris to Ravenna, Italy, as its first bishop. His preaching of the Good News was so successful that the pagans there beat him and drove him from the city. He returned, however, and was exiled a second time. After preaching in the area surrounding Ravenna, he entered the city again. After being cruelly tortured, he was put on a ship heading to Greece. Pagans there caused him to be expelled to Italy, where he went to Ravenna for a fourth time. He died from wounds received during a savage beating at Classis, a suburb of Ravenna. A beautiful basilica honoring him was built there in the sixth century.
Following Jesus involves risks—sometimes the supreme risk of life itself. Martyrs are people who would rather accept the risk of death than deny the cornerstone of their whole life: faith in Jesus Christ. Everyone will die eventually—the persecutors and those persecuted. The question is what kind of a conscience people will bring before the Lord for judgment. Remembering the witness of past and present martyrs can help us make the often-small sacrifices that following Jesus today may require.
During his remarks prior to the Regina Caeli on May 7, 2000, Blessed John Paul II noted that later that day at Rome's Colosseum he would participate in an ecumenical service honoring 20th-century martyrs. He said, “It is the same paschal light that shines in them. Indeed, it is from Christ's resurrection that the disciples receive the strength to follow the Master in their hour of trial.” What the pope said of those martyrs is true of all martyrs for Christ, including today's saint.
Living in the Present:
God extends his patience and generosity to us all. It's never too late to let go of past failures. We can always make a choice to do the right thing in the present moment. When we do, God can bring it to good purpose.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
I exhort you to live tranquilly as regards your spirit ... there is nothing to worry a great deal about.
Our Interior Inspirations
November 18, 1936
Today, I tried to make all my exercises before Benediction, because I was feeling more ill than usual. So I went to bed directly after Benediction. But when I entered the bedroom, I suddenly knew interiorly that I should go to the cell of Sister N. because she was in need of help. I entered her cell at once, and Sister N said to me, "Oh, how good it is that God has brought you here, Sister!" And her voice was so faint that I could hardly hear her. She said to me, "Sister, please bring me some tea with lemon, because I am terribly thirsty, and I cannot move because I am in such pain". And truly, she was suffering very much and had a high fever. I made her more comfortable, and she was able to quench her thirst with the little bit of tea that I brought her. When I entered my own cell, my soul was engulfed by the great love of God, and I understood that we should take great heed of our interior inspirations and follow them faithfully, and that faithfulness to one grace draws down others. - (Diary No. 756)