Tee hee!! I don’t know about you, but every time I hear this saint’s name, I giggle. I guess I’m just a kid at heart. Nonetheless, this sixteenth century saint is serious business. Although the date of his death is July 14, we celebrate his memorial today.
Born in Italy in 1550, his mother died when he was young and his father, a military officer, neglected him. As a boy, he joined the army and in the process became a gambler. Destitute, he attempted to join the Franciscan order at the behest of a kind friar who encouraged him. The order denied his entry.
Off he went to Rome and got work at the Hospital for the Incurables. Unfortunately, due to his argumentative nature and penchant for gambling, he got fired. After rejoining the army and fighting against the Turks in 1569, he gained employment with the Capuchins in the building of a new monastery. A startling discussion with the guardian of the convent caused him to examine and change his life. Admitted to the order as a lay brother, he was later dismissed due to poor health.
Again, he set off to Rome and entered the same hospital (where he had previously worked and been fired) in the hopes of getting a cure for the perpetual abscesses on his feet. A temporary cure provided the opportunity for him to become a nurse. Those who witnessed his character and holiness appointed him the director of the hospital. Go figure!
At the advice of St. Phillip Neri, his friend and spiritual guide, Camillus became a priest and in 1584 started the order, the Fathers of Good Death. Members took a vow to devote themselves to plague victims in both the hospital and in homes.
As Camillus led the order and served the sick, he suffered physical infirmities, but would not allow others to care for him. His health deteriorating, he resigned as general of the order and devoted himself to the care of the sick and poor and establishing more houses of the order.
It is said that he had the gift of healing and prophecy. He died at the age of sixty-four, and miracles attributed to him elevated him to sainthood in 1746.
Sometimes we see people we love straying far away from God and living lives of pain and struggle through their own choices. We never know how or when God will work in us or in those we love. We must commit ourselves to pray that Holy Spirit touch their hearts in a mighty way to move them to conversion, healing, and wholeness that only comes from the love of God.
Saint Camillus, pray for us! Anne