Saint Jerome Emiliani
He was a Venetian nobleman who was born in 1486. After having spent his youth adventurously, in 1531 he decided to give up everything and, while remaining a layman, to devote himself to a very particular mission: to share his life with the poor and to start a family with the orphans. His mission began in Venice (the Hospital for the Incurables in Venice, the workshop of the orphans in St Rocco) and soon his reputation brought him for cities across Lombardy and Veneto, since the bishops called him to put in order the charity foundations of their dioceses. His charity commitment found expression in several areas: the reception of orphan children, the care of people with plague, the help relevant to the prostitutes, the Christian education. A large group of collaborator developed around him, and some of them decided to share his life style. Thus the Company of the Servants of the Poor arose, known today as Somascan Fathers. Jerome died on 8 February 1537 in Somasca (in the province of Lecco) after contracting plague by the sick people he was taking care for, during a terrible epidemic which hit St Martin Valley. It stays his extreme act of love, capable of laying down his life according to Jesus commandment. His work goes on by means of the Congregation of the Clerics Regular of Somasca, in some religious families that are inspired by him, and thanks to many laymen testifying in different ways that they have chosen to live side by side with persons in need.