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Sharing God’s Love with the Orphan through the Example of St. Jerome Emiliani

Sharing God’s Love with the Orphan through the Example of St. Jerome Emiliani

orphaned childIf you visit our child sponsorship page and read some of the stories of the children listed there, you will find a common theme in many of their lives: these children, by and large, are orphans. They have lost parents either by death or abandonment, and sometimes by both, and they are being cared for by whichever relatives agree to take them in.

Children need the love and care of a parent to develop properly; if they have spent their early lives feeling alone, unloved, unwanted, how can they be expected to grow into healthy adults? It falls to friends and caretakers to show love to these poor orphaned children, and love can take many forms – it can mean opening your home to a foster child, or sponsoring a child in a far-off country through a program like CARITAS. However it is shown, a child will feel love through the actions of someone who shows them they are worthy and who shows up when others have left them.

St. Jerome EmilianiWhether you are already sponsoring a child, or cannot make that commitment at this time, a good way to love these orphaned children is to pray to St. Jerome Emiliani, patron of orphans (feast day: February 8).

St. Jerome (or Gerolamo) Emiliani was born in Venice to wealthy parents in the late 1400s. After a rather wild youth spent as a soldier, he was eventually captured and imprisoned. He experienced a conversion when he prayed to the Blessed Mother for help and he was miraculously released. From then on, he took Mary as his Mother and devoted his life to the service of those children who had no earthly parents.

Mary appears to JeromeJerome started a religious order with the mission of caring for children and orphans. He built orphanages and tended to both the bodily and spiritual needs of parentless children. He understood the importance of showing everyone the love of their Heavenly Father, telling his brothers: “Our blessed Lord desires to include you among his beloved sons, provided that you remain steadfast in his ways, for this is the way he treats his friends and makes them holy.” St. Jerome recognized that our true dignity lies in being sons of the Father, and sought to communicate this to those who had no earthly fathers.

We can take this saint’s example to heart by endeavoring to always show God’s love to everyone we interact with in our lives, with particular care for parentless children. You can ask for his intercession to guide you in discerning how best to care for these children, perhaps through fostering or sponsorship. Remember that God’s Word is full of His special solicitude for orphans! In Psalm 82, God commands us to “give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.” St. James tells us in his epistle that “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). He imposes an obligation on all of us to provide for those who have lost their protectors, if we are to fully grasp the weight of the Christian faith.

orphaned childFinally, we have the words of Jesus Himself, who says: “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you” (John 14:18). We must endeavor to remind the fatherless of the Fatherly love of God. If you can do nothing else, please remember to pray for the orphaned and friendless that they experience this love. St. Jerome Emiliani, patron of orphans, pray for us!

You can help to share God’s love with orphaned children across the globe by visiting our sponsorship page and reading their stories.