Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Orphans and the Pious House of the Annunciation

from: "Acts and Processes of the Sanctity and of the Miracles of the Venerable Jerome Emiliani", Somascan Fathers, edited by Fr.Remo Zanatta, Houston, TX 2015. P.98-100.

The institution of the orphans girls, also founded by Miani, was near the converted. The church was dedicated to the Announciation.
The first witness to be interrogated was Barbara Zanchi, daughter of Vincenzo and Elisabetta, she was from Redona. She was 45 and was accepted in the pious house at 7. She was in charge of the hand-looms.
Domenica Gavazzi of Bergamo was 42 and entered the Annunciation at 10. Her father was Giovan Battista, the mother Isabetta. She was in charge of the food and sewing teacher.
Anna Gabinali, or Gabuziali, of Bartolomeo and Maddalena. She was from Bergamo. She entered at 7. She was 39. Her duty was to keep in order the cloth.
These three witnesses were called to depose again in the apostolic process respectively on the 7th, 17th, and 18th of February, 1625. The second deposition is, in general, more abundant in news and details not only about Miani but the life itself of the orphans and institution. In the apostolic process other three orphans were interrogated who had received healing attributed to the intercession of St. Jerome: Giovanna Adobati, of Cristofoto and Antonia, born in Venice, 56, who used to help the teachers. Brigida Pellegrini of Celanella, daughter of Giobbe and Lucrezia, 47, in charge of the garden and of medicating. Maddalena Barili, 30, born in Bergamo in Borgo San Leonado, daughter of Rocco and Maddalena, who used to work at the hand-looms.
Also these depositions are rather generic. The old ladies had repeatedly narrated the facts of Miani’s life, but the young did not always put “enough fantasy”. In the recalling there remained especially the extraordinary facts, as the one of the bread. There are then the usual testimonies of general character: he was a men of holiness and bounty of life; in vile dress he used to do good and holy deeds, to bring back to good life the dissolute persons and build pious institutions.
In the apostolic process are not missing more particular news; he used to come often to the house of the orphan girls, which then was in the quarter of Pozzo Biano, to review “the actions”; among his friends there was a priest from Vicenza, a certain Angelo della Cera, a father Gelmo; he used to eat only bread and the worse giving the good one to the poor; he used to wear a black short cassock, a big leather pair of shoes and on the head hair “which were not beautiful”; for mortification he was wearing a low, small round cap called “bretignolo”; he was a strong, animated man; he had taught one of the mothers how to medicate especially the ring worm: before dying he wanted to wash the feet to all orphans one of whom, while dying, saw the luminous throne which would have received his father Jerome, he used to wear cloth he carried the cilice, he was sleeping on the bare ground.
Among the old ladies of the institution of the orphan girls the recalls are especially regarding sister Buona and sister Scolastica.
Sister Buona was born between 1515 and 1520. She died in 1593 about 80 year old. She had known Miani and many times talked to him. She had been a mother of the pious institution, “a completely spiritual woman, a good and exemplar life who was making many prayers.”
Scolastica died in 1610 about 90 years old, Father Vincenco Gambarana had entrusted to her the direction of the orphan girls; she kept that duty for many years. “She was a spiritual woman of very great devotion and attending with diligence to the government of the institution; she left a very good memory of her deeds and in the institution she is thought of holy life; she was making very many prayers”.
These two women among the first orphans gathered by Miani, besides preserving the memory with their word and testimony with their life, the bounty of their master, alimented in the hearts of the youngest a true devotion toward the founder.

The depositions give to the processes testify to that as well as the narration of the graces attributed to the intercession of St. Jerome; the sacks of bread deposited at the door while the whole community turns to him in prayer, or the basket of “fresh, white, beautiful” bread and great cheese in it, or the bag of money in a moment of need such as to induce mother Scolastica to pawn the chalice, and then the healings of Giovanna Adobati, Brigida Pellegrini and Maddalena Barili.

Somascan Fathers

Historical Notes about the General Archive

Historical Notes about the General Archive

The General Archive was located in Pavia, St. Maiolo Community, from 1569 until 1810, which was where Father General used to reside. In 1810 the Congregation experienced the tragic event of the Napoleonic suppression. Knowing that government was coming to take possession of everything that belonged to our Congregation, our fathers living in Pavia quickly tried to save all they could: documents, books and manuscripts were thrown into bags and brought to some friends who were in the same city of Pavia.
Some years later, Father Quarti recovered those bags and brought everything to Somasca, to Father Maranese, who had remained in Somasca as pastor of the parish.
In 1823, the Somascan Congregation arose out of the Napoleonic suppression, and in 1829 the first General Chapter was held in Genova, at the Church of Maddalena. In  that particular chapter our fathers also discussed where to place the General Archive. Three options were proposed: the first one was Como, “Gallio College”, the second was Somasca, at the “Mother House”, and the third option was Genova, “Maddalena”. Unanimously,  Maddalena was chosen because Genova was a quieter region in Italy at that time, compared with Milan and all over Lombardia in general.
Therefore, from Somasca all that remained from the Original General Archive was sent to Genova, at the “Maddalena Community”. Only the Letters of Saint Jerome Emiliani were kept in Somasca.
In the following years, the local superior of the “Maddalena” used to take care of the General Archive. For the most part the Archive was kept in a small room, sometimes not cared for very well.
In 1910, Father Stoppiglia (local superior of the “Maddalena”) requested permission (and it was granted) from the Father General to put the Archive in order. The Father General at that time was Father Pietro Pacifici, who later became Bishop of Spoleto.
Father Stoppiglia not only put  the General Archive in order, but he also published documents, searched for lost manuscripts, and edited different books. When Father Stoppiglia died in 1835, his assistant Father Marco Tentorio  passionately and strenuously continued this delicate and important task of taking care of the General Archive.
In 1946, father Marco Tentorio was named General Archivist by Father Giuseppe Brusa,  Father General of the Congregation. Father Tentorio began to travel all over Italy, visiting many communities, libraries, museums, and private collections, trying to organize the General Archives, which little by little grew in size so much that the current location was not enough anymore.
In 1973, Father Fava, Father General, approved the new expansion of the General Archive. From a small room, including hallways and a few “piles of documents placed in some corners,” the General Archive was moved to a different floor of the “Maddalena”, spacious and more organized.
After the death of Father Marto Tentorio, the Archive was entrusted to the local superior (Father Beccaria, 1993-2005).
On October 2005, the new General Archivist was nominated, Father Maurizio Brioli.
A decision was made to move the General Archive to Rome, in the General House, where it is currently located; the process was completed in 2008.

Some bibliographical references for the General Archive:
1.         1910 - 1935: Father Stoppiglia was in charge of the Archive. The reference is AMG (Archivio Maddalena Genova)
2.         1935 - 1973: Father Marco Tentorio was the General Archivist. The reference continued to be AMG. From 1973, a new reference is used: ASPSG (Archivio Storico Padri Somaschi Genova)
3.         2005 - today: Father Maurizio Brioli introduces a new and modern reference: AGCRS (Archivio Generalazio Chierici Regolari Somaschi). This is done in order to follow the system that all the General Archives are using (AG = Archivio Generale + our Congregation official reference = CRS)

Brief History of the Somascan Order



The Somascan Order is part of the religious movement that developed in the midst of the Christian renewal in the sixteenth century. Founded in 1532, it is second in the chronological series of the Orders of the Clerics Regular. In 1525 at Rome St. Cajetan Thiene started the Theatines; in 1532 St. Jerome Emiliani founded the Somascans in Venice. They are followed by the Barnabites of St. Anthony Maria Zaccaria in Milan, and by the Jesuits of St. Ignatius at the chapel of St. Denis, Montmartre, in 1534.
The times with their changed social and cultural conditions, called for variety of activities; they required active spreaders of the faith, who would indeed come from organized bodies, but who would mix with the world and deal with the world. Hence a double aspect of these Orders of the Clerics Regular. Their members were true religious, who took the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Their poverty was even more absolute than that of the Franciscans: they lived in common and austerity. They all wore the black cassock of the secular priests. They all engaged in the same kind of outside work and apostolate. While first attending to the material needs of the sick, the poor, the illiterate, they found a way to their soul and raised them up towards God. Finally, they realized that the pope and the ecclesiastical authority could effect a thorough reformation and, therefore, they made themselves the direct helpers of the Holy See and the Bishops upon whom they immediately depended.
All the religious orders born in the sixteenth century are influenced by the Oratory of the Divine Love. At that time pious and religious confraternities were founded in several parts of Italy. One of them appeared in Rome in 1515, which was called the Oratory of the Divine Love. The attention of its members was turned toward the inner renewal of the religious life. The best way of spreading the religious renewal was to reform themselves through pious exercises, prayer, through the reception of the sacraments and the performance of works of charity. Humble and modest, they merely wished to set a good example. Several Christian humanists belonged to the Oratory. Their association was morally, socially and intellec­tually distinguished. It was soon joined by two men who were both to influence deeply the future of the Church: St. Cajetan Thiene and Cardinal GianPietro Carafa (later, Pope Paul IV), the spiritual director of St. Jerome Emiliani.

THE FIRST SOMASCAN CHAPTER in 1533: the Chapter of the mats of straw.

It is the heart of the summer 1533. Around Merone the harvest is almost finished. The moon rises on the sleeping countryside. A few men walk noiselessly along the deserted field. They look like conspirators. They suddenly stop and sit on clusters of millet that are scattered on the ground. These men are going to hold a council, like on the eve of a battle, trace a plan, and regulate a battle.
At the same hour in the world a conspiracy is being plotted, inspired by ambition and cupidity. But these evening walkers are the companions of the Divine Love, the friends of the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit guides them.
It is a long time since Jerome heard the call for help. And long, since did he answer. But now he is asked for more. Two questions must find answer this night: What more should he do for the love of God? What more should he do for his neighbor?
Men of different talents united in Merone to associate themselves with the servant of God in the help of their neighbor. There are priests and lay people. Jerome, who always judged himself unworthy of receiving the Holy Orders, consults the first ones with a profound respect. Altogether they plan land­marks, establish a program; little by little a conclusion is reached. What a clear and inspiring evening! The condottiere calls for a council the members of his flock, and forms a regular militia glorious through the centuries in Christ's army. Seated on straw and scornful of the ancient emblems of the dynasty of the Emiliani, Jerome founds a new family and takes a new coat of arm: Christ carrying the cross, and a motto: 'My Burden is Light', and the title: 'The Compagnia of the Servants of the Poor.'


The good grain will abound. Now there must be a cradle, which will be the mother-house, the novitiate, the residence of the disciples of St. Jerome. Nevertheless, Jerome is far from thinking that he has founded a religious order. He thinks of a small institution, a fraternity, a company like that of the Divine Love.
Later on, accompanied by a few children, Jerome crosses the St. Martin Valley. Some small villages bordered by ponds, surrounded by mountains, attract him. Splendid scenery! But at Vercurago where his friends offer him the hospitality he does not stay. The spot is not deserted and silent enough, while the neighboring village seems favorable to peaceful contemplation.
No one can move heaven and earth without kindling the hatred of Satan. Jerome is struck by the malevolence of a wealthy man: "Out of here, starving beggar! No tramp in my territory!" Jerome does go away in search of another house. In the gentle light of autumn here is a village on the edge of a lake, protected by a mountain, Somasca. Suddenly Jerome stops. Without difficulty he obtains from the Ondei family a house. It is not a resting place, but a point of departure. The converted soldier of New­
Castle has found his headquarters. Near him, men are going to realize their vocation and work for the glory of God.


The second assembly was held in Somasca. The moment had come to give the institute stable regulations inspired by the statutes of the Divine Love, by the Benedictine ideal expressed in the motto: Ora et Labora.
In the house of the Ondei convened men of different social classes, priests and lay people, dressed humbly. The name of 'The Compagnia of the Servants of the Poor' was definitely adopted and many decrees were approved by the assembly. The administration of the institutions would be assigned to some honest and capable laymen; thus the religious members would be free for their spiritual apostolates. As for poverty, they agreed unanimously to refuse anything that could constitute an assured income, the religious becoming firm in the desire to live with the unique trust in the Divine Providence. For the same reason, the servants of God sould never accept family inheritance of those who would become members of the community. They engaged themselves to live by daily alms. They would receive the Holy Orders, recite together the divine office, would preach the gospel and hear confessions.
The great concern of Jerome was always the renewal of the Church for which he composed a prayer that the children said daily: "Dear Father, our Lord Jesus Christ, we ask of your infinite mercy to return the Christians to the state of sanctity that showed forth at the time of the Apostles."


By the Bulla of June 6, 1540 Pope Paul III approved the newly-born Institute and gave faculty to elect superiors, to call for a general chapter, to issue the constitutions.
In 1565 a prelate of twenty-seven years of age, Charles Borromeo, made a solemn entry to Milan. He entrusted the Somascans the direction of St. Maiolus College in Pavia. A few months later, the young Arch­bishop of Milan made an official visit to the tomb of the Father of the Poor, opened the coffin and incensed the relics. It was the first ecclesiastical approval of the sainthood of Jerome Emiliani.
In December 6, 1568 the Society was officially named "The Order of the Clerics Regular of Somasca" by Pope Pius V, once Jerome's friend in Pavia.
In the region of Lombardy as well in Venetia the example of Jerome Emiliani continued to stir enthusiasm. However, it is only in 1747, under the pontificate of a Somascan alumnus, Pope Benedict XIV, that the ceremony of the beatification took place in the Vatican Basilica. Twenty years later, the 16th of July 1767, Clement XlII proclaimed saint Jerome Emiliani.
The 24th of May 1921 by a decree of the Congregation of the Rites, Pope Benedict XV granted
the Somascan Order the privilege of venerating the Blessed Mother under the name of “Maria, Mater Orphanorum”, “Mary, Mother of the Orphans”.
1928 Pope Pius XI proclaimed solemnly St. Jerome Emiliani "Father of the Orphans and Univesal Patron Saint of Needy Youth".
Through calamities and difficulties of any kind that have developed during the four centuries of history the Somascan Order has never ceased its apostolate for the needy youth. St. Jerome has now on earth those numerous hands and arms of which he has dreamed. His disciples have founded seminaries, houses of education, colleges, professional schools, workshops in Italy, in Switzerland, in Spain, in Central America, in Mexico, in Colombia, in Brazil, and in the United States of America. In Belgium exists a branch of the Somascan Order since the Hieronymieten dedicate themselves to teaching and to the care of the sick under the patronage of St. Jerome Emiliani. They are established in the Oriental Flanders, at St. Nicholas-Waas, Gand, Beveren-Waas, Lokeren, Maldegem, Sleidinge, Stekene. These religious members address to the Founder of the Congregation of the Servants of the Poor this beautiful prayer: "Your hands were instruments of prayer and charity. Teach us to pray and love in spirit and truth”.

Provident Father

Provident Father,
You call the young adults by name from different families, cultures, and pasts - each of us unique and made in your image, blessed and challenged with the different gifts given to us by you.
You call us to be one.
You call us to be perfect.
You call us to be merciful.
You call us to be holy. 

You call us to be your adopted children. Lord, grant that, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Orphans, under whose mantle we find protection , we remember that you said you will not leave us as orphans,  but will be with us always . As ones who dare  to call you Father, light our hearts on fire so that we may choose to say "yes" to your love with our entire being and in turn share ourselves with your other children - our brothers and sisters, especially those who are suffering.
Grant that we remain united with those who have come before us and those who will follow in our footsteps, to proclaim your message of love in the name of your Crucified Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.