Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 20: SS Jerome Aemiliain, Joseph Calanctius and John Baptist de la Salle, Confessors, Memorial

Today's saints are all founders of religious orders.

St Jerome Emiliani (1481 – February 8, 1537) is the founder of the Somaschi Fathers Fathers.

Born in Venice, St Jerome 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. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1518, he spent much time working in and establishing hospitals and other institutions for the poor. In 1532 St Jerome founded a religious society whose principal work of the community was to be 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.

Goya, The Last Communion of
St Joseph of Calasanz
 Saint Joseph Calasanctius  (1557 – 1648), also known as Joseph Calasanz and Josephus a Matre Dei, was the founder of the Pious Schools and the Order of the Piarists, the first teaching order.

St Joseph studied law, and following the deaths of his mother and brother, his father wanted him to  marry and perpetuate the family. But a sickness in 1582 soon brought Joseph to the brink of the grave, and on his recovery he was ordained a priest.   After holding a variety of offices in his home diocese and two surrounding ones, he moved to Rome in 1592.  He joined the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and gathered the boys from the streets and brought them to school, and after some struggles, established first free public school in Europe.  In 1600 Calasanz opened his “Pious Schools” in the center of Rome and soon there were extensions in response to growing demands for enrollment from students. He was able to convince the Pope of the need to approve a religious Order with solemn vows dedicated exclusively to the education of youth, and his the congregation was made a religious order on November 18, 1621.  The Order of the Pious Schools was the last of the religious Orders of solemn vows approved by the Church.

John Baptist de La Salle (1651 – 1719) was a priest, educational reformer, and founder of the Christian, or De La Salle, Brothers, the first community of men composed solely of lay brothers. He is patron saint of teachers. He dedicated much of his life for the education of poor children in France; in doing so, he started many lasting educational practices.

Named a canon of Rheims Cathedral when he was sixteen, he had to assume the administration of family affairs after his parents died.He nonetheless completed his theological studies and was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 26. Two years later he received a Doctorate in Theology. De La Salle became involved in education little by little, without ever consciously setting out to do so. In 1679, what began as a charitable effort to help Adrian Nyel establish a school for the poor in De La Salle's home town gradually became his life's work.

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