Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 66(4) November 2016
Great Medical Lives
St Camillus De Lellis
Donato Tallo RGN
In a small street called Piazza della Maddalena, a short distance from the Pantheon in Rome, the beautiful church of Santa Maria Maddalena can be located and it is here in this wonderful building that is both architecturally stunning and spiritually uplifting that the mortal remains of St Camillus de Lellis are located.
Born in the year 1550, Camillus was a soldier in his younger days and reports suggest he was physically a very large individual; Camillus had a problem with gambling when he was young and he also suffered greatly from a lower leg wound which was sustained during his military service. When Camillus was 25 he was converted to the faith and from then onwards consecrated his life to the care of the sick.
After his military service Camillus worked in manual labour and later entered the noviciate of a community of Capchuin Friars however he did not peruse his vocation within the order.
Camillus worked at the hospital of San Giacomo in Rome and was said to be highly dedicated to his work in caring for the sick and the dying. During his time in Rome Camillus came into contact with Fr Phillip Neri (who of course himself was later canonized) and Fr Neri became a spiritual guide to Camillus.
Camillus found that through his work with the sick and the dying he also had a religious calling and was later ordained to the sacred priesthood. Camillus later gathered up a group of individuals both lay and religious who called themselves the servants of the sick dedicating their lives to care of the sick and dying. The group of individuals that Camillus gathered up formed a congregation that was approved by the Holy See in 1586 and raised to the rank of an order in 1591 with Camillus as its first superior. The work of the order now more commonly referred to as the Camillians still continues both in Italy and throughout the world to this very day.
Camillus died in the year 1614 with Pope Benedict XIV beatifying him in
1742 and canonizing him in 1746.
Considered to be the patron of the sick and those who serve them St Camillus is a saint with an interesting story whose message and teachings live on to this day.
St Camillus please pray for those who care for the sick, that they may see their work as a vocation and not a task, encourage those of us who care for the sick to persevere through the daily challenges we face and to put the care of the sick and the dying first.