Thursday, March 8, 2012

João Cidade Duarte

St. John of God. He was born in Portugal, but somehow wound up in Spain when he was 8 or 9. He worked as a shepherd boy and around the age of 22 joined a company of foot soldiers in the forces of Charles V. After his tenure as a soldier he went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and afterwards resolved to live a life of atonement. He returned to Portugal and found out his mother had died and his father had become a Franciscan friar, so he returned to Spain.

As a former soldier with no trade skills he had a hard time finding employment so he wound up a shepherd again.  As a shepherd he time time to pray and reflect and  realized the harm he caused in his life and set out to make up for it. He intended to go to North Africa to ransom or to take the place of captured Christians, but actually wound up selling religious books and pictures in Granada.

 He was sent to an insane asylum for acting insane, and St. John of Avila had to talk him out of it and get him released. He made his house a hospital and half-way house for the poor, sick, and those he found in houses of ill repute. He gained the approval of the bishop, who asked him to don a habit to show the bishop's support. From all this was born the Hospitaller Order of John of God.

He is a patron of nurses, hospitals, hospital workers, sick people, dying people, book binders, booksellers, publishers, printers, against alcoholism and body ills.

Some of his representations are St. John with an alms box around his neck, him washing Christ's feet, a pomegranate, or a crown of thorns.

Sancti Joánnis de Deo, ora pro nobis

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