On 2 February 1575, at the age of twenty-five, the young Camillus de Lellis abandoned for ever the tearaway and dissolute life that he had led up to that time in order to dedicate himself completely to those most in need. His conversion took place in Puglia, in the so-named Valle dell’inferno, on the road that connects San Giovanni Rotondo with Manfredonia.
Camillus, a mercenary soldier and a hardened gambler, had reached Manfredonia from Naples looking for an upturn in his life but was reduced to being a beggar in front of the Church of St. Dominic. Here he was noticed by a local nobleman, Antonio di Nicastro, the procurator of the Capuchin fathers, who asked him to work as a manual worker on the building of the religious house and the adjoining church. After a little hesitation, Camillus agreed.
During the sixty days that he was a guest of the friars, the harmony of their chants and the powerful witness of their actions worked unknowingly inside him, preparing him for his encounter with God. On 1 February 1575 Camillus reached San Giovanni Rotondo to bring comestibles to the friars of the local friary. Here he was welcomed by the custodian of the place, Father Angelo, who stayed with him in the bower of the garden and gave him a ‘short spiritual argument’, speaking to him about God and the meaning of existence. Camillus was moved and strongly shaken.
In the morning of 2 February, the feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary, he went back towards Manfredonia. Here, on the stony high plane of Gargano, his conversion took place. ‘Ah poor me, what great blindness has been my life without knowing first my Lord! Why have I not dedicated myself to serving him? Forgive Lord, forgive this great sinner’, he cried out.
Since then the Camillians have commemorated 2 February as the day of the conversion of St. Camillus, striving to ensure that the memory of that event is not lost, and being the custodians of those symbolic places of Puglia which are the destination every year of pilgrimages and moments of prayer.
St. Camillus: Saint of the Red Cross I
23rd December 2016
story of St. Camillus I read more
St.Camillus: A Humble Brother II
24th December 2016
Camillus returned to the monastery read more
St.Camillus: The Priest III
25th December 2016
Reassured by the miracle of the Crucifix read more
St.Camillus: Advocate of the Poor IV
26th December 2016
The Red Cross of the Ministers read more
Heart of St.Camillus V
27th December 2016
He lived the last six months read more
Poor & Sick: St.Camillus Thoughts
“The poor and the sick are the heart of God. In serving them, we serve Jesus the Christ.” St. Camillus De Lellis read more
Serving: St.Camillus Thoughts
The sick we are serving will one day cause us to see the face of God. St. Camillus De Lellis read more
Sick are our Lords and Masters. Hospitals are the mystical vineyard of the Lord. St.Camillus de Lellis read more
Think well. Speak well. Do well. These three things, through the mercy of God, will make a man go to Heaven. St. Camillus de Lellis read more
Commitment: St.Camillus Thoughts
Commitment is doing what you said you would do, after the feeling you said it in has passed. Saint Camillus De Lellis read more
who was st.camillus?