SAINT JOHN of GOD (1495-1550), religious and founder
Patron saint of hospitals, nurses, the sick and dying
Today, the universal Church honors Saint John of God, whose life evolved from mercenary to servant of the sick and poor, realizing his need to live in the Eternal Light of God’s Love, rather than the shadowy darkness which had enveloped his life for so many years – an example for all that it is never too late to turn back to a life of personal sanctity and selfless love.
John was born in Montemoro Novo, Portugal on March 8, 1495 of a devout and charitable Christian family. When it was time for him to set out on his own, he decided to leave his parents and join the military.
John spent a considerable part of his life in the service of King Charles V as a mercenary; and, upon the renewal of his term of military service, he enlisted in a regiment on its way to Austria to do battle with the Turks. Over the passage of time serving as a soldier, he fell away from the faith, which he had experienced from birth.
About the age of forty, John became interiorly aware of the darkness his life had embraced, and he decided to give the rest of his years in service to God; and, after receiving some excellent spiritual direction from Blessed John of Avila, John began to direct his energies toward the needs of others.
He established a house devoted to the service of the sick and began to work one-on-one with the poor. John raised money for his charitable work through door to door begging. Soon, many people began to realize the goodness of John and the holiness of his work and generously donated both money and provisions.
John’s goodness and holiness also attracted followers, and the group became the foundation of a religious Order called the Brothers Hospitallers. After ten years of intense work with the sick and dying, Brother John began to weaken and become ill.
He died at the age of fifty-five in Granada, Spain on March 8, 1550, the same day he was born. Pope Alexander VIII canonized John of God a saint in the year 1690. He was also declared the Heavenly patron saint of the dying and of all hospitals by Pope Leo XIII in 1898.
Today, the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God is governed by a Prior General who resides in Rome; the Order is now divided into eleven provinces, with 102 hospitals, 1536 religious brothers, and 12,978 beds.
We commemorate the feastday of Saint John of God on March 8.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint John of God)
“Father, You gave John of God love and compassion for others. Grant that by doing good for others we may be counted among the saints in Your Kingdom.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”