Quero, Treviso and Somasca
They are the three geographic locations summarizing St Jerome Emiliani’s biographical and spiritual path. Quero represents the dreams and the ambitions, the political career, the crisis and the failure of a man who built his life on the basis of the self. Treviso is the beginning of a spiritual way to approach the Church, made up by prayer, reading the Word of God, meeting other Christians and doing charity works. Somasca is the mature expression of the saint. The charities for the orphans are organized and interconnected, the bishops recognizes the capability and the virtues of Jerome, the Company of the Servants of the Poor arises with its first rules. An ideal pilgrimage in the footsteps of St Jerome Emiliani could start from Quero and Treviso, then via Venice until you reach Somasca. But even where you live you can follow a decentralization path from yourself turned to the dedication to others for the love of God..
In 1508, with the launch of the League of Cambrai, Venice reacted militarily and called its young people to arms, among them there was Jerome Emiliani. The Most Serene Republic gave him the custody of the fortress in Castelnuovo di Quero, the central point of the defense system because of its location along the river Piave, in a dominant position as compared to the road which connected Feltre with Treviso. On 27 August 1511, warlord Mercurio Bua at the head of 300 men took by force Quero castle and imprisoned the castellan Jerome Emiliani. During his captivity Jerome invoked the Virgin Mary and on 27 September 1511 he ran free thanks to the extraordinary intervention of the Mother of God herself, as he himself made people write on a votive tablet in the Sanctuary of the Madonna Grande in Treviso. In 1737 the castellan Diego Corner, during the restoration of the castle tower, made people build an oratory that he dedicated to St Jerome Emiliani, and that place was called “la Fratina” because he was managed by Somascan friars, who came from the neighboring Sanctuary of Saints Victor and Corona. In 1768, because of the decline of the Most Serene Republic and the radical political transformations of Europe, the rulers lost interest in Feltre territories and so the Castle and its oratory were sold to individuals, and for many years it became an inn and a tavern. In 1917 the bombing of the Great War damaged seriously the central body of the Castle. Finally, thanks to the word of mouth of the local people, in 1924 Castelnuovo was bought by the Congregation of the Somascan Fathers, who turned the raised floor of the bigger tower into chapel. In the last years the Castle, which is well renovated, has become a place of worship and formation for many groups of young people.
The origins of the Sanctuary of St Mary Major are so remote that they can be found at the beginning of the first Christianity in Treviso. That little Marian temple, set up near the confluence of the rivers Sile and Cagnan, was destroyed but later it was rebuilt as a monastery and then conceived as Marian Sanctuary to date, and the residents of Treviso called it “Madona Granda” (dialect form of Madonna Major). The Sanctuary is connected to the case of Jerome Miani or Emiliani. In 1511, while he was the castellan of the Castle of Quero, he was taken prisoner and after regaining his freedom he attributed it to the prodigious intervention of the Virgin Mary, to which he addressed during his prayer. As a token of his gratitude he brought to the Madonna Major the stocks of its imprisonment.
Somasca is a hamlet of the municipality of Vercurago, at the gates of Lecco. Climbing along St Jerome street you reach the car parks where you can leave the car and continue in the way. Journey starts with the Basilica where Saint Jerome’s relics are placed. As you proceed down that road you will find a little church dedicated to the Mather of Orphans, here died Jerome in 1537. The path continues among the houses to reach a clearing where you find the arch that marks the beginning of the chapels boulevard, which tell about the life of the Saint. In the middle of the boulevard where the Holy Stairs are located. At the end of the path you reach the location called “Valletta” (Little Valley), where there is another little church and the miracle source. If you wish you can continue until the “Innominato Stronghold” which was listed on a novel of Manzoni, from which it is possible to admire beautiful views of the lake basin and Saint Martin Valley.