Pope's Message to Somascan Fathers

«Poverty of Love»: «Root of Every Serious Human Problem»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 29, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’s message to the superior of the Somascan Fathers, on the occasion of the jubilee to be celebrated by the order to mark the 500th anniversary of the founder’s miraculous release from prison.

The founder, St. Jerome Emiliani (1481-1537), is the patron of orphans and abandoned children.

The celebrations will open in Venice on Sept. 25, with a Mass in St. Mark’s Basilica, and will continue throughout the year with a series of historical meetings dedicated to the person and spirituality of the saint. The jubilee will conclude with a nighttime youth pilgrimage to the shrine of the Great Virgin of Treviso, in Italy. The official closing will take place in Somasca on Sept. 30, 2012.

* * *

To the Reverend Father Franco Moscone, CRS

Minister-General of the Order of the Somasca Regular Clerics

I have learned with profound satisfaction that this order is preparing to celebrate with a jubilee year a joyous and important date for its history and charism. Next Sept. 27 is, in fact, the fifth centenary of the miraculous release from prison, wrought by Mary Most Holy, of the founder, St. Jerome Emiliani, universal patron of orphans and abandoned youth: a prodigious event that, at the same time, changed the course of a human life and began a highly significant experience of consecrated life for the history of the Church.

The life of Venetian layman Gerolamo Miani was as though «re-founded» on the night of Sept. 27, 1511, when after sincerely vowing to the Great Virgin of Treviso that he would change his conduct, he was freed from the chains of prison through the intercession of the Mother of God. He himself placed these chains before the altar of the Virgin.

«Dirupisti vincula mea» (Psalm 116:16). The verse of the psalm expresses the genuine interior revolution that took place after that liberation, linked to the tormented political vicissitudes of the age. It became an integral renewal of Jerome’s personality: By divine intervention he was liberated from the fetters of egoism, pride, and the search for personal affirmation, so that his existence, initially oriented especially to temporal goods, was centered solely on God, whom he loved and served in a particular way in orphaned, sick and abandoned youth.

Marked by his family vicissitudes, because of which he had become the tutor of all his nephews who had been orphaned, St. Jerome developed the idea that youth, in order to grow up with health — and especially the neediest — cannot be abandoned, but that love is an essential requisite. In him, love went beyond resourcefulness, and given that it was a love that arose from the very charity of God, it was full of patience and understanding: attentive, tender, ready for sacrifice, like that of a mother.

The Church of the 16th century, divided by the Protestant schism and in search also of a serious internal reform, enjoyed a re-flowering of holiness that became the first and most original answer to requests for renewal. The testimony of saints shows that one must only have confidence in God: Trials, in fact, both on the personal as well as the institutional level, serve to increase faith. God has his plans, even when we do not succeed in understanding his ordinances.

Care of youth and their human and Christian education, which characterizes the charism of the Somascans, continues to be a commitment of the Church, at all times and in all places. It is necessary that the growth of the new generations is nourished not only by cultural and technical notions, but above all by love, which conquers individualism and egoism and enables one to pay attention to the needs of every brother and sister, even when they cannot be changed, and even more, precisely then. 

The luminous example of St. Jerome Emiliani, described by Blessed John Paul II as a «layman who inspired laymen,» helps us to be concerned about all the poverties experienced by our youth: moral, physical, existential and above all, the poverty of love, the root of every serious human problem.

Continuing to guide us with her support will be the Virgin Mary, unsurpassable model of faith and charity. Just as she released the chains that kept St. Jerome prisoner, with her maternal goodness may she continue to liberate men from the fetters of sin and the prison of a life deprived of love for God and for neighbor, offering the keys that open God’s heart to us and our hearts to God.

With these sentiments, I impart to you, Reverend Father, to all the members of the Somascan Family, and to all those who will join the jubilee celebrations with faith, a special apostolic blessing.

Castel Gandolfo, July 20, 2011

[Translation by ZENIT]
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation