Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
One cannot read the Gospel without realizing that one of the primary concerns of Jesus was the care of the sick. All four of the Gospels record that Jesus reached out to those who were victims of disease, both physical and mental. Jesus' concern for the sick has become a hallmark of the Church which he left behind. Since the very beginning of the Church, she has demonstrated extraordinary concern for sick people.
Throughout the history of the Church, a number of people have responded to her concern for the sick by founding religious congregations which embraced this side of apostolic life. Today we remember one such person, St. Camillus de Lellis. Like so many of the saints, Camillus turned to a life of devotion to the sick after having served in the armed forces. His experience as a soldier led him to caring for the wounded which led him to caring for all victims of illness and disease. The red cross that marked his uniform is still used today by military medics.
He founded several religious congregations, all of which are devoted to hospital and nursing work. No stranger to illness himself, he never let his own limitations get in the way of performing his duty to visit the sick. When he say how plague victims were routinely ignored because of the fear of contamination, he founded a group to care for their needs in particular.
St. Camillus is widely venerated as the patron of nurses and against gambling. (His army life was marked by his addiction to gambling.) In most of the world, his memorial is kept on July 14. However, in the United States, his memorial is kept on July 18.