- Historical event
- 14 July 1614
- Saint Camillus de Lellis, due to his own experience in war and of being wounded, felt a call to establish an order within the Catholic Church that will be dedicated to the care for the sick and wounded. The religious Order he founded is still active today, and its members made a vow of helping the sick, even when their own lives are in danger.
On this day, in 1614, significant saint who was particularly dedicated to caring for the sick and wounded – St. Camillus de Lellis, died.
His own experience from war and of being wounded, led him to establish an order within the Catholic Church that will be dedicated to the care for the sick and wounded.
Thus, the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers to the Sick (Ordo Clericorum Regularium Ministrantium Infirmis) was formed.
Today, members of the order are commonly called Camillians, after St. Camillus, and they use the post-nominal initials of M.I. (Ministrantes Infirmis).
In his early life, Saint Camillus de Lellis was a soldier. By the time of his birth, he belonged to the generation of the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (they were born less than three years apart).
Cervantes was also a soldier in his youth. Namely, it was the time when battles against the Ottoman Turks were intensively fought in southern Europe. Naval battles against the Turkish fleet were particularly fierce.
In a battle, Saint Camillus sustained a leg wound that later tormented him for a long time.
After a turbulent military life at an early age (he allegedly joined the army when he was only 16) and even his excessive gambling, St. Camillus had a religious conversion in 1575, when he was about 25 years of age.
He started caring for the sick, and later even felt a call to found the monastic community that would be dedicated to better organization of care for patients.
He was ordained a priest, and during the whole process was supported by the famous saint Philip Neri, who was about 35 years older than St. Camillus.
Members of the order that St. Camillus founded wear a specific habit with a large red cross.
That cross reminds of the “Red Cross”, the world symbol of today’s health care, but it should be noted that the Camillians were founded almost 300 years before the International Red Cross.
St. Camillus is now considered the patron saint of the sick, hospitals, nurses, paramedics and physicians.
Some even supposedly invoke his aid against gambling (he was allegedly a gambler before he converted).
Camillians still operate today and are dedicated to the care of patients, similarly to other important Catholic order – the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God.
Note that the Camillians were also dedicated to caring for patients with plague, which was a dangerous profession because of the possibility of contamination.
In the modern world, Camillians provide care for AIDS patients. It is very interesting that Camillians took a vow of helping the sick, even when their own lives are in danger.