• 08 Mar 19

Mar 8 - “St. John of God” © icon by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM. Happy Feast Day St. John!

In 1537, Granada, Spain was a bustling city, growing ever more wealthy due to the explorations of the adventuresome explorers of the New World. However, as the rich became richer, the poor became poorer, more forgotten and ignored. The sick, the old and the handicapped often were left in the gutter to die or to beg. Juan Ciudad, a man who would later be called "of God," went about the streets of Granada imploring all he met to "Do good to yourself by doing good for others." Hospitalized himself for what people imagined was a "mental break down," he discovered the redemptive value of suffering. Transformed by the experience, he labored for thirteen years, unceasingly caring for those in the pain and anguish of suffering. He opened his own hospice and called it a "House of God."

"Remember Our Lord Jesus Christ and His blessed Passion and recall how He returned good for the evil they did Him," he would instruct. In the self-emptying Jesus Christ saw the manifestation of a man who died to make us well. John of God understood that love has a healing and therapeutic value for those who are sick, dying and abandoned by the systemic injustices of an economy that favored the rich, allowing the poor to become poorer. Relationships are healing and so he sought to restore human dignity to the ill and forgotten. While he poured his energy out in the service of others, the source of his energy was the crucified Christ.

John died at 55 years of age on March 8, 1550, of pneumonia, after he plunged into a river to save a young man from drowning. In 1690 he was canonized by Pope Alexander VII, and in 1886, Pope Leo XIII declared him the heavenly patron of all hospitals and the sick. He is also recognized as patron of nurses, booksellers and firemen. He is the founder of the Hospitaller Bothers of St. John of God, an order dedicated to the care of the sick and suffering.

 

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