July 17, 2017

St. Camillus de Lellis, Caregiver to the Sick, Founder

Saint Camillus de Lellis

Optional Memorial – July 18th

St. Camillus' mother was nearly sixty years old when he was born [in 1550]. As a youth, he gave himself to the sinful pleasures of this world. His conversion dates from the feast of the Purification, 1575. Two attempts to join the Capuchin Order were frustrated by an incurable sore on his leg. In Rome, Camillus was placed in a hospital for incurables; before long he was put in charge due to his ability and zeal for virtue. There, he provided the sick every kind of spiritual and bodily aid.

At the age of thirty-two he began studying for Holy Orders and was not ashamed of being numbered with children. After ordination to the holy priesthood he founded a congregation of Regular Clerics, the "Ministers to the Sick." As a fourth vow the community assumed the duty of caring for the plague-ridden at the risk of their lives. With invincible patience Camillus persevered day and night in the service of the sick, performing the meanest and most difficult of duties.

His love shone forth most brightly when the city of Rome was stricken by epidemic and famine, and when the plague raged at Nola. Having suffered five different maladies, which he called God's mercy, he died in Rome at the age of sixty-five. On his lips was the prayer for the dying: "May the face of Christ Jesus shine gloriously upon you." Camillus was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV, and canonized by him four years later in 1746. Leo XIII declared him the heavenly patron of hospitals and added his name in the litany for the dying.

He is the patron saint of the sick, hospitals, nurses and physicians and against gambling. His mortal remains rest in the altar of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Rome, along with several of his relics. Also displayed is the Cross which allegedly spoke to Camillus, asking him, "Why are you afraid? Do you not realize that this is not your work but mine?". Almighty God, who adorned the Priest Saint Camillus with a singular grace of charity towards the sick, pour out upon us, by his merits, a spirit of total love for you, so that, serving you in our neighbor, we may, at the hour of our death, pass safely over to you. Amen.

Expanded and adapted excerpt from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

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