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  • Writer's picturePhil


Mine's chocolate. Can't get enough of it. Can't resist it!

My uncle, sadly, was addicted to gambling.

His lovely, patient wife stuck with him as long as she could.

Camillus de Lellis was also addicted to gambling.

He was born in 1550 in the Kingdom of Naples.

His mother died when he was a child,

after which his father neglected him,

as he was himself busily involved in the military.

Camillus had to bring himself up, and made the best job of life that he could,

but grew up with an excessive fondness for gambling.

Tall for his age, at the age thirteen he began to accompany his father

from one military camp to another.

At sixteen he joined his father in the Venetian army

and fought in a war against the Turks.

He entered Rome's San Giacomo Hospital for Incurables

for treatment to an ulcerated leg sustained whilst in the army,

a condition that remained with him for life.

He was dismissed from the hospital nine months later

for being quarrelsome and bad-tempered.

He served in the Venetian army for a further three years,

and fell-in with company that could not have been a worse influence on him.

By the time he was 24, Camillus had gambled away all that he had

—savings, weapons, everything.

He was lucky to be given work at the Capuchin friary at Manfredonia,

and was one day so moved by a sermon of the superior

that it changed his life.

He entered the Capuchin novitiate, but was dismissed

because of the incurable leg-sore and his quarrelsome nature.

After another stint of service at San Giacomo, he returned to the Capuchins, only to be dismissed again because of the incurable leg-sore and his quarrelsome nature!

On the advice of his friend and mentor, Saint Philip Neri,

he studied for the priesthood and was ordained in his thirties.

He founded a congregation of his own, and as Superior,

devoted much of his time to the care of the sick.

The well-being of the sick was his first concern,

and his most-diligent attention was given to the cleanliness of the place.

The members of his community (of whom there were many)

vowed to serve prisoners and persons infected by the plague

as well as those dying at home.

Some of his men served the wounded in battle,

alongside those fighting in Hungary and Croatia in 1595,

the first recorded military field ambulance.

In Naples, he and his men boarded the galleys

that had plague and were not allowed to land.

Camillus suffered with his leg throughout his life.

In his last illness, he left his own bed to see if other patients

in the hospital needed help, putting their needs first.

Saint Camillus de Lellis is the Patron Saint of:

hospitals; nurses; healthcare workers; the sick, the addicted,

and those who suffer from bad-temper and a quarrelsome nature!

The Camillians are an active Roman Catholic religious order,

founded by St. Camillus de Lellis.

Their uniform is a black cassock with a distinguished badge of a large red cross.

This distinguished cross was later adopted as the international symbol

of international medical care.

As of 2018, there were 1080 Camillians serving in 35 countries.

Thanks be to God for what He can do with such a rough creation of His;

Camillus de Lellis, gambler, quarrelsome, bad-tempered,

someone who has left a legacy of care for five-hundred years.

O 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 love for you, so that, serving you in our neighbour, we may, at the hour of our death, pass safely over to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

You who are yourselves a blessing

who know that to feed the hungering is to bless

and to give drink to those who thirst is to bless

who know the blessing in welcoming the stranger

and giving clothes to those who have none

who know to care for the sick is blessing

and blessing to visit the prisoner:

may the blessing you have offered

now turn itself toward you,

to welcome and to embrace you at the feast of the blessed.

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