St. Camillus of Lellis, patron of the sick
The saint of the day for July 18 is St. Camillus of Lellis, founder of an order dedicated to the care of the sick. He is the patron of the sick, hospitals, and nurses.
St. Camilus was born in Bacchianico, Italy in 1550 and died in Rome, Italy in 1614. His mother died while he was still a child and his father was an officer in both the Neapolitan and French royal armies, leaving him neglected. While still a youth, he became a soldier in the service of Venice and later of Naples, remaining there until 1574.
While Camillus referred to himself as a great sinner, his only vice seemed to be gambling. He gambled away everything he had and, to atone for actions, he went to work as a laborer on the new Capuchin buildings in Manfredonia. Here, after a moving appeal from the Friar, he completed his conversion and begged God for mercy, at the age of twenty-five.
Camillus entered the Capuchin novitiate three times, but a nagging leg injury, received while fighting the Turks, each time forced him to give it up. He went to Rome for medical treatment where Saint Philip Neri became his priest and confessor. He moved into San Giacomo Hospital for the incurable, and eventually became its administrator.
He decided to become a priest at the encouragement of St. Philip Neri, and was ordained at the age of 34. He established his Order, the Fathers of a Good Death, for the care of the sick. Camillus chose a red cross as the distinguishing badge for the members of his Order to wear upon their black cassocks, and he taught his volunteers that the hospital was a house of God, a garden where the voices of the sick were music from heaven. Once when he was discouraged, he heard the consoling words from the crucifix, “This is my work, not yours”.
Camillus was a strong and powerful man, about 6’6″ tall, but suffered throughout his life from abscesses on his feet. In spite of this infirmity, he was active in organizing his Order.
After leading the movement throughout Italy, Camillus died on July 14, 1614. In 1742, Pope Benedict XIV proclaimed Camillus de Lellis blessed; in 1746 he canonized him, calling him the “Founder of a new school of charity”.
Quote: “Think well. Speak well. Do well. These three things, through the mercy of God, will make a man go to Heaven.”
– Saint Camillus de Lellis
Prayer to Saint Camillus of Lellis
Most wonderful Saint, your compassion for the sick and the dying led you to found the Servants of the Sick. As the Patron of nurses and hospital workers, infuse in them your compassionate spirit. Make hospitals resemble the inn in Christ’s Parable to which the Good Samaritan brought the wounded man saying: “Take care of him and I will repay you for it.” Amen.