MEMORIAL OF SAINT CAMILLUS DE LELLIS SATURDAY OF THE FIFTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIMES JULY 18, 2020
Reading 1 1 JN 3:14-18
Beloved: We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that anyone who is a murderer does not have eternal life remaining in him. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
Beloved: We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers… Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
Are you dead or alive? According to the reading, we come to life when we love. The saint of today experienced a conversion from God to teach him this love which gave life to his words and deeds.
Camillus de Lellis was born in Bocchianico, Italy into an impoverished family. His mother was 60 years old when Camillus was born, so the neighbors called her “St. Elizabeth”, because God answered her prayers of having a son in her old age. She had a prophetic dream of her son wearing a robe fashioned with a red cross and leading others wearing the same. She passed when he was 13 years old, where after his father neglected him, and he turned to a life of sin. At 17 years of age he suffered from an illness that affected his leg for the rest of his life. He went to a hospital for the incurable as a patient and a servant. He was asked to leave the hospital for his disruptive behavior. He did not care about his work for the sick, only for gambling.
Despite his ailing leg, as a young man, he fought with the Venetians against the Turks and continued to gamble. His life-style left him penniless, with only the shirt on his back, at the age of 24.
While begging on the street, he found the Capuchin friars were hiring for their building project. As he worked for the friars, he listened to them and was pulled closer to God.
When he was 25 years old, he experienced a total conversion through the grace of God on February 2, 1575. His transformation happened while traveling on horseback, where he became overwhelmed with his sin and vowed to leave the world behind. The Capuchins allowed him to enter as a novice, but would not accept him permanently with his chronically sick leg.
He left the Capuchins in hopes of curing his leg at a hospital in Rome. He ended up working in the hospital during his care and was promoted to superintendent of the hospital. He used this experience to transform the care of the poor, which was greatly substandard at the hospital.
He became a priest in 1584 and two years later, formed a congregation, Ministers of the Sick, also known as Camellians. Pope Gregory XIV officially made this congregation an order in 1591, to serve the sick. They vowed poverty, chastity, obedience and serving the sick, no matter the lethal condition. They went aboard ships not allowed to disembark because of the plaque and entered into battle fields to carry off the wounded. He had his ministers pray an additional 15 minutes over the dead to stop the practice of burying people alive. He established eight hospitals and 14 religious houses to continue the work God gave him.
St. Camillus and all of the members wore a red cross on their cassock, just as his mother prophesized. It signified the healing blood of Jesus Christ. This was very dear to St. Camillus as he knew the saving power of the blood of Christ in his own life. St. Camillus’ life is a great example of God’s work being accomplished by those who receive grace to do it. May we become humble enough to receive grace to love others so that we may live.