Feast of St. Camillus de Lellis (July 14)   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Camillus de Lellis

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT CAMILLUS DE LELLIS (MAY 25, 1550-JULY 14, 1614)

Italian Roman Catholic Priest and Founder of the Ministers of the Sick

Alternative feast day = July 18

The life of St. Camillus de Lellis was an example of repentance–turning one’s back to one’s sins.  St. Camillus had been a mercenary, a gambler, and a con man.  He, born into nobility at Bocchiavico, Abruzzi, Kingdom of Naples, on May 25, 1550, was the only child of Giovanni and Camilla de Lellis.  Giovanni, a mercenary, was usually away from home.  Young Camillus was out of control.  He was impious, he skipped school, he got into fights frequently, and he intimidated his mother so much that she was terrified of him.  Camilla died when her son was 13 years old.  Relatives who raised St. Camillus for the next four years could not control him either.  For a few years father and son were a team of mercenaries.  St. Camillus drank too much, had a foul mouth, and was promiscuous.  He and his father, gamblers, conned their fellow mercenaries.

Giovanni’s deathbed conversion made a fleeting impression on St. Camillus, who had an uncle, a Franciscan friar at Aquila.  When St. Camillus petitioned to become a friar at Aquila, the friars rejected him, citing his immaturity.  They were perceptive; immediately he resumed gambling.  After St. Camillus suffered an injury that resulted in an ulcerated ankle and leg that did not heal for a while, he could not work as a mercenary, so he became a professional gambler.  The brothers who operated the Hospital of San Giacomo, Rome, permitted St. Camillus to work in the wards and receive room and board in exchange for medical care; it was a common arrangement.  Alas, he was still gambling, so the brothers expelled him from the hospital.  St. Camillus resumed work as a mercenary and a professional gambler until he lost everything.  He, 24 years old, was begging for alms at the church door in Manfredonia.

That was a turning point.  At the church door St. Camillus accepted an offer to work as an assistant to construction workers building the new local monastery.  There, in 1575, a monk converted St. Camillus.  After the completion of that construction project our saint returned to the Hospital of San Giacomo, Rome, where the brothers gave him a second chance.

At the hospital, where St. Camillus helped poor people, he arrived at another turning point.  He met St. Philip Neri (1515-1595), the “Apostle of Rome.”  Neri, who frequently heard as many as 40 confessions before dawn, became the spiritual director of St. Camillus.  Meanwhile, St. Camillus was formulating ideas about how to operate a hospital for poor people better.  With Neri’s help St. Camillus became a priest in 1584.  The relationship between the two saints ended because St. Camillus refused to follow Neri’s advice.  St. Camillus had moved into a rented home in a seedy neighborhood of Rome and opened a hospital there.  Neri, concerned that St. Camillus would relapse into sinful habits, thought this was a bad idea.  He urged St. Camillus to return to San Giacomo.  When St. Camillus rejected the counsel, Neri severed ties to him.  St. Camillus did not relapse, contrary to Neri’s concerns.

St. Camillus founded a new order, the Ministers of the Sick, made official in 1591.  Our saint and other members of the order, not content to give patients a comfortable and clean place to die, tried to cure them.  St. Camillus recognized Christ in those to whom he tended.  One day, while our saint was helping a patient, a Cardinal visited.  St. Camillus, informed of the Cardinal’s arrival, said,

For the moment I am with Our Lord; I will see His Eminence when I have done.

St. Camillus spent more than half his life serving Christ in poor, sick people.  Nevertheless, as he lay dying, St. Camillus was concerned about his abandoned sins.  He told a confessor,

Pray for me, for I have been a great sinner, a gambler, and a man of bad life.

St. Camillus, assured of divine pardon, died with his arms stretched out, his body in the form of a cross.  He died, aged 74 years, in Genoa, on July 14, 1614.

Pope Benedict XIV beatified St. Camillus in 1742 then canonized him four years later.

St. Camillus is the patron saint of nurses, sick people, and Abruzzi, Italy.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 13, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR B

THE FEAST OF HENRI DOMINIQUE LACORDAIRE, FRENCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, DOMINICAN, AND ADVOCATE FOR THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

THE FEAST OF FRANCES PERKINS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF LABOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT GAMMA OF GORIAO SICOLI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC ANCHORESS

THE FEAST OF SYLVESTER II, BISHOP OF ROME

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O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the life of the world.

Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.

Through us give hope to the hopeless,

love to the unloved,

and rest to the weary,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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