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St. Camillus: Saint of the Red Cross I


  • St. Camillus: Saint of the Red Cross

    St. Camillus was a man and a saint of his time, the sixteenth century, the age of contrasts. A golden era in literature and art; a century of shadows by its heresies and vices; a period of great wealth and of great want. Camillus de Lellis embodied the contrasts of his time. He was rich and poor, noble and disinherited; was nurse and invalid, sinner and believer. Finally, he overcame, from within and without, all that was opposed to what is good and noble. He embraced voluntary poverty, though he spared no expense where the poor were concerned. A genius divinely enlightened in the science and virtue of charity, who was a stranger to the learning of the day. Although he suffered from infirmities in his body, he was a giant and a man of iron in sustaining the weaknesses and infirmities of others. Humble and contrite accuser of himself, he was exalted by God and man. He became and remains the Saint and Benefactor of Mankind.

    The family of St. Camillus
    De Lellis family was gifted with a son whom they named Joseph, but after few years the little Joseph died. After the death of Joseph they had to wait, asking God for many years, by prayer and alms, the grace of another child. God answered their prayers when Camilla was sixty years of age. While Camillus was in her womb, she saw in a dream a multitude of children with red crosses on their chests, led by a tall boy carrying a flag with a red cross on it. Vividly impressed and fearing that her son should be a child of malediction, a source of crosses she redoubled her prayers and alms, offering to God her own life and that of her future offspring, rather than he should live unworthy of his calling.

    The Birth of Camillus
    Camillus was born on a Sunday, May 25, 1550. On this day Camilla though physically unfit went to Church to celebrate the combined feast of St. Urban and Pentecost. During the elevation of the sacred host she felt labor pain and her friends assisted her home praying specially to Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Francis of Assisi to whom Camilla had great devotion. Surprisingly she had to give birth to her son in a stable. Since it was difficult to reach the house. The neighbors and whole village stood speechless at this miraculous event. The father, captain and commander of the local army hurried off home to see the newly-born. Some days later the babe was carried to the church to be baptized with all the solemnity. The boy was named Camillus after the mother, a name which already indicated the ways of Divine Providence, that is: a servant of the sick. Lady Elizabeth, or Saint Elizabeth as the good people of Bucchianico used to call the pious mother of Camillus on account of giving birth to a child at her advanced age, wished to bring up her son in the fear of God. But she slowly lost the grip of her son, when his cousins especially Onofrio invited him to play. Camillus preferred the streets and distractions of his friends to the more composed habits and quietness of his home. Camillus, on the streets, was the king of gamblers, the leader of every hazardous enterprise and the predominant personality in unruly scenes. When only thirteen, he was so tall and robust that none of his colleagues could match his size, much less look down on him. This character of Camillus increased the fear of the mother for she was often reminded of her dream. His distressed mother on her death bed exclaimed: “Oh, my Son, will you be then the cross I dreamt of, and the downfall of our family. Shall my tears and prayers be in vain ?” Camillus was only thirteen or fourteen years when his mother died with a heart heavy with the fearful dream. Camillus was little disturbed by his mother’s death. There did remain, however, embedded in his memory like a nail, that dream of hers about the cross. His fighting spirit, a part of his very nature, was enflamed by the many tales of his warring father as well as by the wars which rent Italy in those days. Eventually it led the dynamic youth to enroll in the army.

    When only seventeen years he went off withhis father to fight against the Turks at Lepanto.At Ancona, however, the father became sick andin a few days died. Father left nothing out for the young Camillus even a house to lay down, but his father’s last words touched Camillus, “May God watch over you, live an honest life as your mother taught you.” The death of his father profoundly affected him, for he was even heartbroken now than at the death of his mother. His right leg was wounded due to his long fatigue journey on foot for the war. It started with a small blister in his left foot and when it dried up in the same area of the right foot another blister formed. It was considered as a special wound and the modern physicians would have diagnosed as very cankerous varicose vein. He stayed at the hospital of St. James to treat this wound. At the end of 1571, he left again for the war, fighting in Dalmatia and Africa. The cards and dice were always near at hand. Three times he had close escapes from death: during an epidemic in Dalmatia, at the siege of Goletta in Africa and in an unforgettable storm at sea. Each time he resolved to change his life, but his passion for gambling soon overcame his good resolutions. Like a violent fever, it played a havoc with this ardent young man. He gambled away his paternal patrimony, his military equipment, his arms and evenhis very shirt. Towards the late Autumn of 1574, discharged from the army and without any capacity or desire to work, ragged and half-naked, Camillus left Naples and later Rome. He turned his steps towards Barletta in the hope of finding some employment. At Manfredonia, on November 30, while he was begging for alms at the door of the cathedral, a gentleman offered him the job of mason’s helper. After some hesitation, he accepted and found himself in close contact with the Capuchin Fathers, whose monastery was under repair. Two donkeys were placed at his disposal to draw stones and gravel. Mortified and discontented, he had to fight strenuously for self-control. To adapt himself to this hated labor he often went so far as to bite his hands out of sheer anger. Necessity kept him at his work, without, however, inducing him to live with the Friars: although one of the older fathers had offered him keep and clothing because of the rigorous cold. Camillus preferred the biting winds to such charity. His obstinate soldier’s heart did not yet heed Cod’s calling.

    One day Camillus was sent by the Capuchins of Manfredonia to those of Saint John Rotondo to bring some provisions. Camillus received a cordial welcome by Fr.Angelo and the warm words spoken by the father touched his heart. Camillus listened attentively to the words of the Fr.Angelo, “On this land we live awaiting death…God is everything and rest is nothing.” Deep from within Camillus could hear the voice of his mother about the dream. That night Camillus did not sleep; in a silence, crowded with memories, the words addressed to him rang loud in his heart, like blows of a hammer on bronze. The following morning, February 2nd 1575, on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, he assisted at Mass, loaded his donkey and went his way. On his journey the chastening words of the Friar reechoed in his soul. At times so disgusted was he with himself that it left him crushedand prostrate. He broke down finally, threw himself on the ground and violently striking his breast, he exclaimed in a loud voice: No Lord, no! Forgive me forever. Make me shed all the tears necessary to wash away all my terrible sins. When he rose, he felt like another person.

  • St.Camillus: A Humble Brother II

    A HUMBLE BROTHER
    Camillus returned to the monastery bathed in tears. The brothers found hard to believe their eyes. But the Guardian, implored by Camillus to permit him to enter the Order, felt it his duty to hasten slowly in coming to a decision. As never before, Camillus gave himself up to rigorous penances, passed long hours in never and labored untiringly in the monastery garden. He was finally received into the Order and, because of his tall stature, the Brethren called him Christopher, that giant of Licia who had once bent under the weight of the Child Jesus. Such were his fervor and humility that he was henceforth referred to as the Humble Brother. He was first to answer the call of duty, most exact in the smallest Rule, self-sacrificing in his work and last to table and bed. He was likewise the last and the least in his own estimation. Never before had he been so intensely happy. On being counseled to spare himself, he would plea that a wasted past had to be atoned; while he was yet young and strong he should he allowed to redeem the lost time.

    IX – THE SORE
    Camillus was happy and determined to live and die as a Capuchin. He wanted to live in the practice of humility and penance, in an atmosphere of prayer. Unfortunately, the ulcer on his 1eg broke out afresh. It was so bad that the Superior was compelled, although with reluctance and sorrow, to send, him away. Should he be cured, the door would he wide open to receive him back. Camillus, broken-hearted, left the monastery and went back to the hospital of Saint James of the Incurables at Rome, where he had been treated before At St. James; Camillus was received with ill concealed distrust. The governors of this charitable institution were mindful of his tempestuous character, not to mention his bridled passion for gambling. No sooner was he on the premises than they discovered a changed man. Camillus was more preoccupied with others than with himself, he wore himself out attending the patients around him. To them he was a brother, a father and a mother. Thus for four years he served in the hospital with humility and edifying charity. During that time Saint Philip Neri, his confessor, molded and tempered his ardent, impulsive character. When he believed himself cured, Camillus returned to the Capuchin novitiate against the advice of Saint Philip. There he was received back with open arms. The sore, however, was soon to break out again, with the result that the Capuchins had no other option but to send him away for the second and last time
    X – MASTER OF THE HOUSE AT St. JAMES
    Back at Saint James’ Camillus offered himself to all, especially to the sick. He was appointed Master of the House, procurator and immediate director of the hospital. Nobody, least of all, Camillus himself, believed that he was there as a patient. He made up his mind to spend himself untiringly in the service of the sick, out of love of Jesus Crucified. Like a devoted mother, he would take them up in his arms to change their beds and linen without giving the slightest sign of the disgust. He passed long hours of the night consoling the most stricken. His heart went out more especially to those who were without friends, or had been cast off by their own family. Diligently, and with a strict hand, he saw to it that the nurses
    did not fail to carry out their duty to the patients. He personally supervised the meals and the distribution of medicine so that the best should be given them. Sternly he rebuked a dealer for having brought low quality grains and this unjust business man soon discovered it was better to improve his goods. Above all he secured for the patients the comfort of religion. He sought out good and saintly religious to hear their confession, and in a deep sense of piety would he accompany the priest administering the sacraments.

    THE SHADOW OF THE CROSS
    In spite of his vigilant and continuous supervision Camillus witnessed with growing displeasure a persisting lack of cooperation from the servants. In fact, they rendered his task more and more difficult by their constant unfaithfulness to duty. One night as he kept vigil alone by the bedside of the patients he conceived the idea, or rather received the inspiration, of doing away with mercenary nurses and committing this great work to the care of generous souls who would render service for the love of God and for their own personal sanctification. It seemed easy to him, absorbed as he was in this holy ideal, to impart to others the fire that consumed his own heart. Never did he doubt that he could secure approval and help of right-minded people for a labor as charitable as this. The new recruits would carry, as a distinctive Sign, the Cross on their habit. The following morning he opened his mind to certain colleagues in whom he had confidence. He sought and received the approval of a priest. It was not long before Camillus was to be seen in a small room of the hospital, surrounded by four laymen, to whom he explained and discussed his plan. Each day they spent some time in prayer and holy converse, inflamed like seraphs with the fire of charity.

    THE CRUCIFIX
    Camillus counting in all simplicity on the support of the hospital authorities to launch his
    project was surprised and saddened by their opposition. A blunt refusal did not, however, dishearten him; he still hoped that things would improve. He learned however that the attitude
    of the administration was one of open and formal rejection. One day as he and his companions were about to carry out their private devotions in the small chapel, they discovered that the Crucifix had been taken down from the altar and thrown behind a door. Highly indignant Camillus would have immediately left the hospital but his love for the sick did not permit him. With the Crucifix lovingly held in his arms he went on his knees and gazed upon it for a long time. He arose more determined than ever to persevere in his design. St. Philip Neri, the spiritual father of Camillus, declared himself opposed to the plan. Discouraged in spirit at the sight of so little enthusiasm, Camillus prayed long and hard before his beloved Crucifix. One day, while he prayed, he saw the adorable Jesus come to life and detach His arms from the
    Cross. Distinctly Camillus heard these words: “Do not be afraid. Continue, this is my work,
    not yours.” Strength and determination returned to the soul of Camillus…

    St.Camillus: The Priest III

    PRIEST
    Reassured by the miracle of the Crucifix, Camillus resolved to carry through the work begun come what might. He stimulated his companions, now reduced to three, with a new courage. In order to make doubly sure of complying with the Divine Will, they were unanimous that Camillus should begin his studies for the priesthood. He was then thirty-two years of age. Without leaving the hospital, Camillus braved the jokes of the much younger students
    at the Roman College of the Jesuit Fathers. He Studied hard and was in due course deemed suit-
    able for Minor Orders which he received at the Church of St. Sylvester from the hands of Bishop Goldwell, a persecuted Bishop of England. About to be raised to the priesthood, Camillus was found to be without the patrimony required by Canon Law from candidates for their sustenance. Divine Providence, in which he had placed all his trust from the moment he had dedicated himself to the service of the sick, came to his aid. A Roman gentleman, Fermo Calvi, provided the six hundred scudi necessary and Camillus was ordained priest. He celebrated his first Mass in the old chapel of St. James’ on June 10, 1584, on the altar of the Madonna, whom he tenderly loved. Around him were his three faithful companions, his benefactor Calvi and his own beloved sick.

    AT THE MADONNA OF THE MIRACLES
    Since his project was making good progress, Camillus decided to quit the hospital of Saint
    James where it was impossible to form new nurses to his taste. What he wanted was religious nurses who would be ready at a moment’s notice to attend the sick in any hospital and to
    take care of the dying in private houses. The chapel of Saint Mary of the Miracles, a small sanctuary on the banks of the Tiber, was at his disposal. Here he found a new residence for himself and two lay companions whom he invested with the religious habit on September 15th 1584. In their new black habits, Camillus and his companions publicly carried their beloved Crucifix to its new home, while many of the population of Rome, inspired by this touching scene, knelt down along the streets to venerate the Cross. Every day, morning and afternoon, they set out on their visitation of the hospital of the Holy Spirit, where they were free to exercise their charity

    MINISTERS OF THE SICK
    By this time all Rome had begun to notice and admire this new band of apostles. Camillus found a more suitable home in the Street of Obscure Shops. He wrote rules and set out a method for the religious and hospital life of the infant group, which the people called “Camillians” after Father Camillus. In agreement with his companions, he wished nonetheless that they be known as the Ministers of the Sick. He had decided to seek the blessing and approval of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Authority. One day he casually encountered Cardinal Lauro on the porch of his palace. Without previous acquaintance with His Eminence, Camillus availed himself of the occasion to implore his help. The Cardinal, after a moment’s hesitation, asked to see the rules of the new institute and promised that, if they were found suitable, he would intercede with the Pope on his behalf. Camillus prayed and waited, trusting unhesitatingly in the designs of Divine Providence.

    THE RED CROSS
    Shortly after, the Cardinal informed Camillus of his audience with Pope Sixtus V. The bull was issued on 18th March, 1586. Camillus immediately presented himself to the Pope, and prostrated at the feet of Christ’s Vicar. He wanted the blessing of Mother Church on this new Order of charity, moreover, to be granted the privilege of wearing a red cross on their new habit and on the mantle, as a symbol of the love and sacrifice that animated them in the practice of charity. The Pope, readily complied with his wishes, issued a second Brief on 26th of June 1586 granting the new con-cession and distinction.

    On the 29 of June, feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Camillus, accompanied by his growing band of disciples adorned with Red Crosses, amid the cheerful greetings of the Romans, went to pray
    at the tomb of the Holy Apostles. His mother’s dream, he realized, was coming true. But it was
    to be for the glory of God, the service of the Church and the honor of the de Lellis family. Heaven had given its answer to her prayers.

    St.Camillus: Advocate of the Poor IV

    FATHER AND ADVOCATE OF THE POOR.

    The Red Cross of the Ministers of the Sick was, and continues to be, an indication that their lives are consecrated to the relief, comfort and love of the sick and dying, who represent the suffering Christ. It was in that sense that the Red Cross was first conceived. From the beginning of the summer 1590 till the end of 1591, Rome was being inflicted by famine and epidemics. Camillus and his Religious gave all their energy and time to assisting the sick
    and poverty-stricken. Urged by his ardent generosity, Camillus claimed it to be his privileged responsibility to look after the destitute. Each day he had tasty soup prepared in the kitchen in addition to whatever bread he could lay hands on. At mid-day all the poor that could make their way to the monastery, received soup and a loaf. When, to move all danger of contagion, the Roman governor decided to evacuate many of these unfortunate people, Camillus, deeply grieved, complained that they would die from sheer hardship. He went as far as offering to support as many as he could himself. His offer went unheeded. Some of these wretches escaped the clutches of the soldiers And concealed themselves in hiding places. They were not out of reach, however, of the provident charity of Camillus and his Religious.
    THE ANGEL OF THE SICK
    His first thoughts focused on the afflicted who had sought refuge and concealment in the
    grottoes and nooks of the Colosseum. Equipped with a torch, he courageously penetrated these death-chambers pouring out soothing balms on the emaciated victims and rendering first aid. He regretted that he was not possessed of a hundred hands to bring help to every place. The two he had, he used hard and fast. Next his zeal directed him to the houses of the
    very poor. He showed a mother’s loving care for the babies, whom he gently removed from maternal bosoms lest these infants drink in death itself. He prepared their feeding bottles, and with a mother’s insight and tenderness that only charity could prompt, cleaned and
    washed them from head to foot. The bigger children were likewise looked after. He dressed them, combed their hair, as well as cooked their meals. He cleaned the house, set everything in order before leaving and returned the next morning with further provisions.

    SOLEMN VOW
    The heroic devotion that Ministers of the Sick had shown by their untiring
    efforts in relieving the poor edified and stirred all Rome. It was the general conviction that the new Institute was a great benefit and boon to the sick and dying. In view of that, Pope Gregory XIV gave it his definitive approval, placing it among the new Religious Orders called Clerics Regular, with the right to take the three solemn vows, and a fourth one, namely to assist the sick, even at the risk of one’s life. The Bull received the pontifical signature on September 21, 1591, shortly before the Pope’s death. On December 8, the feast of the Immaculate conception Camillus and twenty five companions made their perpetual profession before a papal delegate. It took place in the church of the Magdalen which Camillus had rendered, with the house annexed, from the Confraternity of Gonfalone. And it became the Mother House of the Order for all time. Some days later, Camillus and his companions made a pilgrimage to the Seven Churches of Rome. Standing between the columns of the Palatino, he delivered a memorable discourse: “God is to entrust to this young humble Congregation the treasure of charity for the sick…A day will come when this small family shall spread throughout the world and sanctify many souls.” Camillus was greatly concerned with the training of his Religious in their work of charity. He took a keen and personal interest in their formation. He showed them how to handle the patients, how to make beds. He prescribed the way to wash them, to change the linen. He had the sheets renewed as frequently as necessity demanded. He gave to patients their bath under constant vigilance, administering medicines, prescribed by the physician, with strict punctuality.

    Camillus was not only a good and experienced master in the technique of assisting the sick, but he was a genuine man of charity; a physician for soul and body and an engaging
    personality; when his tall figure bent over feeble and suffering patients, it diffused peace and courage. When Camillus was occupied with a patient, as hundreds have witnessed,
    he was so intensely absorbed in his task that all else was forgotten.

    IN ADORATION
    Camillus was no sentimentalist, nor was his charity inspired by human or natural motives.
    There was nothing in the hospitals of the sixteenth century that offered any appeal to the senses. On the contrary, there was much that was repulsive. You had to fight your instincts, your natural
    aversions and feelings in order to keep tending the sick. Grace alone had shaped this change in Camillus. Out of the love of God and in expiation of his sins, he bravely subdued whatever repulsion he experienced, willingly suffered the penance of this hard life and calmly received insults and contempt. Camillus himself saw, served and loved Jesus in the sick with such great faith that often, lost to all around, he would fall into an ecstasy before the most hideous and deformed images of his Creator.
    Death is good and Sweet
    When engaged in looking after the needs of their bodies, Camillus never lost sight of the soul. After looking after the body, he nourished the soul with pious discourses, good reading, an explanation of the catechism or a talk on the Gospel. His words were finned to with evident pleasure, and the patients felt quite revived. Camillus prepared the sick for Confession and
    holy Communion. He saw to it that each one enjoyed the utmost liberty in the choice of a confessor as often as he wished. For the monthly general Communion he always prepared a great feast. Camillus showed great diligence when he was preparing dying for their last journey. The people called Camillus the ‘angel of the dying’ and his followers ‘the fathers of a happy death.’ In the sick-room his very presence brought peace and order.

    THE LAYING DOWN OF LIFE
    Camillus and his religious had promised, by a fourth solemn vow, to nurse the sick stricken with contagious diseases. Occasion presented themselves to Camillus and his followers to practice this vow. Besides the epidemic of 1590-91, almost every summer Rome and Naples saw many of their citizens struck down by plague. Camillus and his disciples snatched thousands from certain death. But it was at the price of many Camillian lives. In an outbreak of the pest at
    Nola in 1600, five Ministers of the Sick fell martyrs to their vow. Milan was visited by the pest in 1594 and many of the ministers of the sick were called upon to give assistance in the pest-house of Saint Gregory. The pest disappeared for a few years, only to raise its ugly head once again in the year 1630. Seventeen Ministers of the sick tending pest-stricken lost their lives in this noble act.

    HIS DELIGHT
    Always a lover of his fellow-men, he could never pass by a sick or an invalid person on the road without stooping to lend a helping hand. Placing the unfortunate man on his shoulders, he went off to the nearest hospital. In visiting the prisoners, especially those in the infirmary, he was laden down with provisions, clothing and medicine.

    Through every misfortune
    Camillus was never a Stanger to misfortunes and by a divinely given instinct he sensed them. Once on a sea-voyage he went down into the hold of the ship to offer a word of comfort to the
    galley-slaves, and afterwards earnestly exhorted the captain to treat these unfortunate creatures
    as human beings and Christians. When he had placed a medal of the heavenly Mother around their necks, he proceeded to consecrate each of them to the merciful slavery of Her,
    through whose loving intercession the sorrows and dishonor of this present life are changed
    into so many rays of hope for the next.
    LOVE OF FATHERLAND
    Camillus cherished a deep love for the land of Abruzzo and for his fellow-citizens of Bucchianico. This natural sentiment was enhanced, as he humbly confessed, by a strong desire to remedy the evil examples he had left from the days of his youth, as a sad inheritance, to the peasants. So after eighteen years’ absence, he returned as a priest to his native country, bringing with him some of his companions. They all bore the Red Cross. Bucchianico was agog with admiration. The old people related the story of Camilla’s dream to the little ones, not without dramatizing episodes in the life of this son of “Saint Elizabeth.” “Yes, this is, indeed, the cross”, Camillus would conform with emotion, which my mother believed was to be our downfall. But the Lord in His mercy has made it a sign of redemption and love to the poor sick and sufferers. This dear land of his was to experience the manifold benefits of the new Order. There broke out a widespread famine; Camillus and his disciples labored hard to reduce its ravages. How food was multiplied in one case astonished all. Even to this day people hand down the story of the miracle of beans. It appears that in spite of general drought, the garden of the Religious produced an inexhaustible crop of wholesome, large beans. Inviting the hungry population to partake of them to their heart’s content, Camillus saw his charity rewarded by an increasing growth of beans, despite the obstinate drought and cold, sufficient to provide for all needs.

    ACTION AND MEASURES OF REFORM
    With the solemn approval of the ecclesiastical authority, this new Order of the Ministers of the
    Sick could proceed to extend and consolidate its work. Camillus had opened a house of his Order at Naples about 1588, after his profession. Now he set about establishing fresh branches of the Institute in such places as Milan, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Messina, Palermo, Viterbo, Ferrara, Mantua, Bucchianico, his native place, Chieti and Caltagirone. It was his holy ambition to staff all the hospitals big and small. All stood in need of his zealous and understanding Ministers of the Sick, of these nurses qualified in charity, virtue and science. To all which 16th century art and genius achieved in the line of material reconstruction, Camillus created its spiritual counter-part in the hospitals. It was a work of reform which Camillus was eager to accomplish, and accomplish he did. Patients everywhere soon felt the benefit of his work. Besides the constant, compassionate and motherly care hitherto unknown, they also
    enjoyed the finest medical and surgical treatment of the day. The sick were to be tended in an atmosphere of intelligent and enlightened charity.

    In the monastery, he was everybody’s helper. As the occasions arose, he assisted the mason or the builder, the cook or the refectory brother. Washing the dishes after meals was his cherished privilege. Seven years before his death (1607), he succeeded in resigning the office of General, in order to have more time to tend the sick in the hospitals. Prostrate before the Cardinal Protector, Domenico Ginnasi, he offered his irrevocable resignation. He had never even as much as thought of his rightto the title of Founder. In all sincerity he had once confessed to one of his Religious: “The Founder of the Order of the Ministers of the Sick was and is our Crucified Lord.”

    THE FAREWELL
    In the declining years of his life Camillus spent both day and night in attending the sick in the
    hospital of the Holy Spirit. He however agreed to accompany the new Father General on his visitation of the houses of the Order to see for the last time his beloved sons. He availed himself of the occasion to recommend them to his loving and august Patroness and Mother, our Lady of Loreto. For the last time, too, his blessed hands were raised over them in earnest supplication to the Almighty to bestow His choicest graces on them, their ministry and concerns. In the hospitals the sick, infirm and destitute bewailed his leaving them while he, on his part,
    commended them to the mercy of God. The Community at Genoa strove to keep him there, but Camillus answered: “No, I must die inRome…” Prince Doria was among the huge crowds gathered to bid adieu to their common father. As Camillus opened his arms wide in a gesture of his all-embracing love, one could more readily appreciate the meaning of the Red Cross as it stood out on his breast like a glowing furnace of charity.

    Heart of St.Camillus V

    HIS HEART
    He lived the last six months of his life in pre-paring himself for Heaven. Even in those months
    of fervent preparation his mind turned to his be-loved sick, so much so that he requested the help
    of his brothers to bring him to the hospital of the Holy Ghost. The visit seemed to refresh him
    anew. Passing along the wards, he greeted, one by one, his ‘Lords and Masters’ and blessed them. ‘I must take leave now… but my heart will always remain with you’ he told them. Then, over-come with emotion, he was carried home where he awaited his end. At his own request he received Holy Viaticum from the hand of the Cardinal Protector, Ginnasi. In receiving the sacrament he seemed to be transported into a rapture of ecstasy and love. Having received the last anointing by the General Father Nigli, he addressed to his sons, pre-
    sent and future, this final recommendation; “Perfect charity towards God, towards the sick and towards one another. Absolute fidelity to the Church, to the Rules and to Poverty. Unconditional confidence in Providence whose sons you are among the poor and the sick.”On the evening of July 14, 1614, he sank into a death-like slumber. Yet the Community, gathered around him in prayer, realized that their dying father was following every word of their supplications on his behalf. At the words “with a mild and joyful countenance” he laid his head upon the Crucifix as to seal by this final gesture his fidelity to the divine command: “Persevere… this is my work.”

    A SAINT
    The death of Father Camillus cast an atmosphere of loneliness over everybody. The poor and sick were inconsolate while Rome grieved bitterly the passing of the Man of charity. All
    Italy mourned his loss, especially the cities where the Saint had founded houses and left lasting impression in the hospitals. As his remains lay in state, the Romans invoked loudly the lost Father, Benefactor and Saint. The reputation of his wondrous charity did not end with the grave. The poor, needy and afflicted flocked to his graveside to implore his help and intercession. To them Camillus was still alive.

    Benedict XIV, in recognition of the heroism of the Founder’s virtues and, in view of the many
    miracles which God brought through his inter-cession, declared him Blessed in the year 1742.
    Three years later, the same Pontiff added him to the list of the Saints. The glory of Bernini at St. Peter’s sparkled that day in the illumination of the Saint of the Red Cross who, with outstretched arms, looked down upon the immense, acclaiming crowds below, as if to symbolize his overflowing charity for suffering humanity in all places and for all time. Leo XIII, in the year 1886, proclaimed Saint Camillus Patron of all hospitals and of the sick. Pius XI, in 1930, declared him to be the Model and Protector of all who nurse the sick.

    SOUVENIRS AND RELICS IN HIS “NATIVE COUNTRY.
    The Ministers of the Sick hold in safe keeping the relics of their Founder and Father which time and man have left intact. In Bucchianico (Chieti), his native country, the paternal home is to this day wonderfully pre-served, particularly that portion associated with his extraordinary birth. The stable is transformed into an ornate chapel in which there hangs a life-like portrait of the Saint. It has become a place of pilgrimage. The people of Bucchianico proudly point out to the visiting pilgrims the garden in which the miracle of beans was performed.

    AT THE MADDALENA

    Perhaps more than in any other place of the world the memory of Saint Camillus lives on at
    the Maddalena, the Mother House in Rome, which was founded by him and where, after thirty years spent there, he died. The High-Altar is surmounted with a large painting of Saint Mary Magdalen by Michael Rocca. Beneath the altar in an artistic bronze urn there lie the venerable remains of the Saint. In the chapel on the right of the High-Altar, the miraculous Crucifix of Saint Camillus is exposed to the veneration of the faithful. Two ornate caskets on either side of the altar contain the precious relics of the heart and sore right foot of the Saint. It has always been the Order’s ambition to maintain possession of the legacy of it’s Father.

    Born on April 28, 1860, at Gravedone on the lake Como, Father Henry Rebuschini from his
    youth had a deep inclination for study and mortification. He was raised to the priest-
    hood on April 21, 1889. On the 18th of December he pronounced his simple vows and made his solemn profession in 1891. At the age of 78, he died at Cremona on May 10, 1938.

    Day 162: Light Dispels the Darkness – April 30

    Day 162: Light Dispels the Darkness – April 30
    posted Apr 29, 2016, 9:59 PM by My Catholic Life [ updated Apr 29, 2016, 10:00 PM ]
    Light dispels the darkness. Scientifically speaking, we know that light and dark are not opposing forces; rather, dark is the absence of light. And when light enters in, the darkness is no more. So it is with the Mercy of God. Without Mercy, our souls are dark. We fall into doubt, confusion, fear and despair when Mercy is absent. In this case, we are left in utter darkness where the filth of sin can reign. But God desires to bring the light of His Mercy. When this happens, and when we open our souls to this gift, the darkness of doubt, confusion, fear and despair vanish. They cannot remain where the Light of Mercy resides (See Diary #831).

    When you look at your soul, what do you see? Is there darkness? Do you see its foul effects? Do you see doubt, confusion, fear or despair? Do you see sin? If so, the Lord desires to dispel the darkness that breeds these burdens and bring forth His merciful Light. Reflect upon the part of your soul that appears to be in most need of His Mercy. Know that He wants to enter that area of your life and waits on you for the permission to do so. He will wait for you to let Him in.

    Lord, please come into the darkness of my soul. Bring forth the bright rays of Your Light and dispel all that is not of You. Come refresh me and renew me, Lord. Help me to see and to know Your great love. I desire to live in the Light of Your Mercy, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.

    Day 62 – The Small Sacrifices of Life – January 21

    Day 62 – The Small Sacrifices of Life – January 21

    Do small sacrifices matter? Sometimes we can think that we should try and do great things. Some may have ideas of grandeur and dream of accomplishing some great feats. But what about the small, monotonous, daily sacrifices we make? Sacrifices such as cleaning, working, helping another, forgiving, etc.? Do the small things matter? Most certainly. They are a treasure we give to God like none other. Small daily sacrifices are like a field in the open valley filled as for as the eye can see with beautiful wild flowers. One flower is lovely, but when we commit ourselves to these small acts of love all day, every day, we present to God a flowing field of endless beauty and magnificence (#208).

    Reflect upon the small things today. What is it that you do each day that tires you and seems boring or unimportant. Know that these acts, perhaps more than any other, present you with a glorious opportunity to honor and glorify God in a magnificent way.

    “Lord, I offer You my day. I offer You all that I do and all that I am. I especially offer You the small things I do every day. May each action become a gift to You, offering You honor and glory throughout my day. Jesus, I trust in You.”