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St. Camillus de Lellis, Founder of the Order of Camillians

by Russell Fleur Gallego

St. Camillus de Lellis is the patron of the sick, hospitals, doctors and nurses. He was born on May 25, 1550 in Bucchianico. When his mother gave birth to him, she was nearly fifty years old. His father was an officer in the army. At the age of 16, he joined the Venetian army in a battle against the Turks. During this battle, he suffered a leg wound which did not heal and plagued him almost all of his life. After the war, he became a gambler, which took a toll on his financial stability causing him to lose his possessions. Because of this, he became a laborer in the Capuchin friary in Manfredonia. Despite all of his misfortunes, through the help of the Capuchins, he had a religious conversion in 1575. However, because of his leg wound, which the doctor has deemed to be incurable, thus denying him admission to become a Capuchin friar.

When he moved to Rome, he entered the San Giacomo (St. James) Hospital, which cared for incurable cases. He became a caregiver and later a superintendent. His spiritual director and confessor was St. Philip Neri. When Camillus observed that the sick were given poor attention by the staff of the hospital, he asked some pious men to express their faith in the care of the sick. With this, he had established the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Interim or commonly referred to as the Camillians. They have a big red cross on their cassocks. During the Bubonic plague, the members of the order devoted themselves for the victims. De Lellis was ordained as a priest on Pentecost of 1584 by Lord Thomas Goldwell, Bishop of St. Asaph. He died on July 14, 1614.

He was beatified in 1742 by Pope Benedict XIV and was canonized in 1746. His feast day is commemorated every July 14th.

Prayer to St. Camillus de Lellis for the Sick Poor

O glorious Saint Camillus, special patron of the sick poor, thou who for forty years, with truly heroic charity, didst devote thyself to the relief of their temporal and spiritual necessities, be pleased to assist them now even more generously, since thou art blessed in heaven and they have been committed by Holy Church to thy powerful protection. Obtain for them from Almighty God the healing of all their maladies, or, at least, the spirit of Christian patience and resignation that they may sanctify them and comfort them in the hour of their passing to eternity; at the same time obtain for us the precious grace of living and dying after thine example in the practice of divine love. Amen.

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