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Saint Camillus de Lellis
Saint Camillus de Lellis

Saint Camillus de Lellis

Feast Day
Jul 18, 2013
Hospitals, Physicians, Nurses, The Sick
<p>St. Camillus de Lellis was an Italian Priest who founded a religious Order dedicated to caring for the sick.&nbsp; He was born in 1550 in Naples.&nbsp; His mother was nearly sixty years old when she gave birth to him, and his father was an officer in the army and was seldom home.&nbsp; His mom died when he was 13, and family members took him in after her death.&nbsp; At seventeen, he joined his father in the Venetian army and fought in a war against the Turks.&nbsp; After several years of military service, his regiment was disbanded and he worked as a laborer at the Capuchin Friary.&nbsp; He was constantly plagued, however, by a leg wound he received in the army, which would not heal.&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite his aggressive nature and excessive gambling, the guardian of the Friary saw a better side to his nature and worked hard to bring that out of him.&nbsp; Eventually the guard&rsquo;s kind and gentle nature penetrated his heart, and he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars at the age of 25.&nbsp; Due to his leg wound continuing to plague him, he was denied admission to that Order, as physicians declared his leg incurable.&nbsp; With that being the case he moved to Rome and entered the Hospital of St. James, which cared for incurable cases.&nbsp; He became a caregiver at the hospital, and later it&rsquo;s Director.&nbsp; All of this time, he continued to follow a strict ascetic life performing many penances, such as a constant wearing of a hair shirt. &nbsp;He took on as his Spiritual Director and Confessor, the popular local Priest of the time, St. Philip Neri.&nbsp;</p> <p>He began to see the poor attention the sick received from the staff of the hospital, and was led to invite a group of pious men to express their faith through the care of patients at that hospital.&nbsp; Finally he felt called to establish a religious community for this purpose.&nbsp; St. Philip Neri his confessor gave him approval for this endeavor, and a wealthy donor provided him with the income necessary to undertake his seminary studies.&nbsp; He was ordained a Priest on Pentecost Sunday, at the age of 34 by the Bishop of Wales, ironically the last surviving Catholic Bishop of Great Britain.&nbsp; Eventually he and his companions moved to the Hospital of the Holy Ghost and assumed responsibilities for the care of patients there. &nbsp;</p> <p>He founded the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers to the Sick, better known today as the Camillians.&nbsp; The large red cross on their cassock&rsquo;s remain a symbol of the Congregation today.&nbsp; This was the &ldquo;Original&rdquo; Red Cross, hundreds of years before the International Red Cross Organization was formed.&nbsp; Pope Gregory XV was so impressed with his great works he elevated his Congregation to the status of an Order in 1591.</p> <p>Throughout his life his ailments caused him suffering, but he allowed no one to wait on him, and would crawl to visit the sick when unable to stand or walk.&nbsp; He possessed the gifts of healing and prophecy, and remained Superior General of the Order until he was 57, and then Vicar General.&nbsp; By that time, communities of that Order had spread all throughout Italy, and as far as Hungary.&nbsp; While touring for an inspection of all the hospitals in his Order, he fell ill.&nbsp; He died in Rome in 1614, and was entombed at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <h2><span style="font-size: medium;"><strong>Practical Take Away</strong></span></h2> <p>St. Camillus de Lellis shows us that a true conversion is possible.&nbsp; He was a wild, aggressive, excessive gambler &ndash; that had a true conversion.&nbsp; He spent the rest of his life using his gifts to care for the sick, even forming a religious Order.&nbsp; His great works up until 1614 was the original Red Cross, hundreds of years before the International Red Cross Organization was founded.&nbsp; Because of St. Camillus, we have the International Red Cross today.&nbsp; His life shows us that it doesn&rsquo;t matter what we are doing now, or where we are at on our faith journey, it is never too late to have a conversion and fully embrace our faith in serving others.</p>