Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Camillo de Lellis
It's the feast day of Saint Camillus de Lellis. He's one of the saints that led a military life before founding or joining an order, like Saints Ignatius of Loyola, Peter Nolasco, John of God, Serapion of Algiers and Nuno Álvares Pereira. In this case he started the Order of the Ministers to the Sick, formally the Clerks Regular Ministers to the Sick or the Fathers of a Good Death, but more commonly known as the Camilians.
(Notice how religious orders, especially the older ones have a zillion names)
He was born the year 1550 in Bucchianico, Abruzzo, Italy. His mother died when he was young and his father was an officer in Neapolitan and French armies so he grew up neglected. He followed his fathers footsteps by serving as a soldier for Venice and Naples until his regiment was disbanded. He developed a gambling problem which naturally caused him financial problems. Here is where I find varying accounts of his bio. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a Franciscan friar convinced him to apply to become a friar but was refused, so he found employment in a hospital at Rome. (Fr. Butler's Lives of the Saints has the similar timeline) He lost his job at the hospital due to his disposition and his gambling problem. He again joined the Venetian army in a campaign against the Turks. The other accounts don't mention this part of his life, they pick up when he found employment with some Capuchins. He tried to join the Capuchins but a leg injury prevented this, even so the Capuchins helped him go the right path.
He returned to the hospital where he worked (if you go by the Catholic Encyclopedia account which mentions his first encounter with the hospital) and after a temporary cure of his injury became a nurse eventually becoming the director of the hospital. He tried to form an order of lay infirmarians but at the advice of his spiritual guide and confessor St. Philip Neri, he dropped that idea and instead set out for the priesthood. It was after this he founded his order to minister to the sick
He is a patron of nurses, hospital workers, sick people and against sickness.
There is a scapular associated with the Camilians, the Scapular of the Blessed Virgin Mary "Help of the Sick". It was Camilian brother, Ferdinand Vicari M.I., that founded the confraternity based on a image in the Camilian run St. Magdalen at Rome, painted by Fa Angelico of the Blessed Virgin, a painting that is said to be one that Pope St. Pius V prayed before during the Battle of Lepanto. It's a black scapular with the image of the Blessed Virgin on front with the patrons of the sick and the confraternity Saints Joseph and Camillus at her feet. On the back is a red cross. Usually a small scapular is based on the actual scapular on a religious habit, the Camilians don't use a scapular, but I guess it makes more sense to have a small scapular for the confraternity rather than a small version of the cassock like habit they use, that would be strange, but then we're Catholic, we like strange.
Sanctus Camillus, ora pro nobis