Wednesday, July 18, 2012

St. Camillus de Lellis

Today’s saint was very tall—six feet, six inches. At the age of seventeen he left his village in Italy to fight in a war against Turkish invaders, but his leg became infected with an ulcer and he was sent to a hospital. As he recovered his health he gambled away all his possessions and ended up working for the Capuchin Franciscans. He wanted to join them but was refused because of his questionable past and diseased leg. He ended up working in the hospital from which he had been discharged as he discerned his vocation. St. Philip Neri counseled him to become a priest and start a new congregation that would care for the sick. This is what St. Camillus did, founding the Servants of the Sick who continue to this day to care for the sick and elderly. St. Camillus was drawn to caring for the sick because he himself had suffered and understand their pain. Moreover, he saw Jesus in the sick and took seriously His admonition that whenever the followers of Christ visit the sick, they are visiting Christ. As we pray for volunteers in mission territories, let us ask that they may see Christ in the people they serve. Our reflection is from a description of St. Camillus that one of his early followers wrote:

I cannot get it out my mind, that when he was attending on a sick person, he looked like a hen with her chickens or like a mother at the bedside of her sick child. For, as if his arms and hands were not enough for the expressions of affection, he might generally be seen bent over the poor man, as though he wished to communicate to him his heart, his breath, and his very soul. Before leaving the bed, too, he would keep smoothing the pillow and … he hovered about the bed, inquiring how the patient felt, whether he wanted anything else, and giving him some maxim to meditate on for the good of his soul. I know not what more the affectionate mother could have done for her only child in his sickness. No one who did not know the holy father would ever have thought that he had gone to the hospital to serve all the sick without distinction. They would have supposed that all his care was wrapped up in the life of that one poor man and that he had nothing else in the world to think about.

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