The Red Cross of Charity

The members of the Order of St. Camillus Servants of the Sick, in addition to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience profess a fourth vow: “To serve the sick, even with danger to one’s own life.” This vow is no shallow or meaningless promise. The Order’s numbers were often decimated by epidemics or by caring for the injured on battlefields.

St. Camillus’ life is an example to all mothers to never give up hope on their children. Camillus was a rowdy, reckless boy given to gambling. After a stint in the military and a leg injury requiring numerous hospitalizations, Camillus took up work in a Capuchin monastery where he experienced a profound conversion. During a stay at St. James Hospital in Rome, he gathered some like-minded men around him to tend the sick.

Pope John Paul II, speaking to the Camillian family  on 450th anniversary of the birth of St Camillus de Lellis (May 25, 1550) said, that St. Camillus offered “insights and advice most of which would be adopted by the science of nursing in our day. He maintained that it was important to consider all the dimensions of the sick person with attention and respect, from the physical to the emotional, from the social to the spiritual. In a well-known passage of his Rule he invites us to ask the Lord for the grace ‘of motherly affection for our neighbor,’ so that ‘body and soul can be served with true love. Indeed, with God’s grace we want to serve the sick with the affection that a loving mother is wont to show her sick only child.'”

The Camillians wear a red cross over their cassocks, predating the Red Cross by hundreds of years!


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