St. John of God
Born at Montemoro Novo, Portugal, 8 March, 1495, of devout Christian parents; died at Granada, 8 March, 1550. The wonders attending the saints birth heralded a life many-sided in its interests, but dominated throughout by implicit fidelity to the grace of God. A Spanish priest whom he followed to Oropeza, Spain, in his ninth year left him in charge of the chief shepherd of the place, to whom he gradually endeared himself through his punctuality and fidelity to duty, as well as his earnest piety.
When he had reached manhood, to escape his master's well-meant, but persistent, offer of his daughter's hand in marriage, John took service for a time in the army of Charles V, and on the renewal of the proposal he enlisted in a regiment on its way to Austria to do battle with the Turks. Succeeding years found him first at his birthplace, saddened by the news of his mother's premature death, which had followed close upon his mysterious disappearance; then a shepherd at Seville and still later at Gibraltar, on the way to Africa, to ransom with his liberty Christians held captive by the Moors. He accompanied to Africa a Portuguese family just expelled from the country, to whom charity impelled him to offer his services. On the advice of his confessor he soon returned to Gilbratar, where, brief as had been the time since the invention of the printing-press, he inaugurated the Apostolate of the printed page, by making the circuit of the towns and villages about Gilbratar, selling religious books and pictures, with practically no margin of profit, in order to place them within the reach of all.
It was during this period of his life that he is said to have been granted the vision of the Infant Jesus, Who bestowed on him the name by which he was later known, John of God, also bidding him to go to Granada. There he was so deeply impressed by the preaching of Blessed John of Avila that he distributed his worldly goods and went through the streets of the city, beating his breast and calling on God for mercy. For some time his sanity was doubted by the people and he was dealt with as a madman, until the zealous preacher obliged him to desist from his lamentations and take some other method of atoning for his past life. He then made a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, where the nature of his vocation was revealed to him by the Blessed Virgin. Returning to Granada, he gave himself up to the service of the sick and poor, renting a house in which to care for them and after furnishing it with what was necessary, he searched the city for those afflicted with all manner of disease, bearing on his shoulders any who were unable to walk.
For some time he was alone in his charitable work soliciting by night the needful supplies, and by day attending scrupulously to the needs of his patients and the rare of the hospital; but he soon received the co-operation of charitable priests and physicians. Many beautiful stories are related of the heavenly guests who visited him during the early days of herculean tasks, which were lightened at times by St.Raphael in person. To put a stop to the saint's habit of exchanging his cloak with any beggar he chanced to meet, Don Sebastian Ramirez, Bishop of Tuy, had made for him a habit, which was later adopted in all its essentials as the religious garb of his followers, and he imposed on him for all time the name given him by the Infant Jesus, John of God. The saint's first two companions, Antonio Martin and Pedro Velasco, once bitter enemies who had scandalised all Granada with their quarrels and dissipations, were converted through his prayers and formed the nucleus of a flourishing congregation. The former advanced so far on the way of perfection that the saint on his death-bed commended him to his followers as his successor in the government of the order. The latter, Peter the Sinner, as he called himself, became a model of humility and charity.
Among the many miracles which are related of the saint the most famous is the one commemorated in the Office of his feast, his rescue of all the inmates during a fire in the Grand Hospital at Granada, he himself passing through the flames unscathed. His boundless charity extended to widows and orphans, those out of employment, poor students, and fallen women. After thirteen years of severe mortification, unceasing prayer, and devotion to his patients, he died amid the lamentations of all the inhabitants of Granada. His last illness had resulted from an heroic but futile effort to save a young man from drowning. The magistrates and nobility of the city crowded about his death-bed to express their gratitude for his services to the poor, and he was buried with the pomp usually reserved for princes. He was beatified by Urban VIII, 21 September, 1638, and canonized by Alexander VIII, 16 October, 1690. Pope Leo XIII made St. John of God patron of hospitals and the dying. (See also BROTHERS HOSPITALLERS OF ST. JOHN OF GOD.)
March 8, 1495-March 8, 1550
Portugal and Spain
Patron: Hospitals, the Sick, Nurses, Booksellers, Printers, those with
As a Spanish soldier, John gave up religion and led a wild life. After
he left the military at age forty, he returned to shepherding on the
mountains. This left him time to think about his past life. Believing
that he was a terrible sinner, John decided to make a drastic change.
He vowed to go to Moslem North Africa and free Christian slaves. With
the help of his confessor he decided instead to open a religious
bookstore in Granada:
Once John was traveling home after a day of work, when he saw a child
whose feet were bleeding because he had no shoes. John picked up the
child and carried him to the next town. All the while, his burden was
getting heavier and heavier, until he was forced to put the boy down
and rest. Suddenly the child changed and appeared as the Christ Child,
Who held up to him half a pomegranate saying, "John of God, you will
find your cross in Granada." The Spanish word granada means
John heard John of Avila preach and felt he still must do something to
show his sorrow for sins. He began publicly beating himself; he ran
through the streets, tearing his hair, and behaved so excitedly that
people threw stones at him to drive him away. This man, who felt his
need for God so deeply, was put into a mental institution.
When John of Avila heard of the effect his sermon had on John, he went
to the hospital and calmed John, persuading him to use his energy
caring for the sick and poor. John left the hospital and rented a house
near Granada. Out into the streets he went to find the poor and uncared
for. What a hospital he had! The lepers, the lame, the insane, the
paralyzed, the deaf-all found shelter there.
In the beginning John went begging for money to support these poor, but
soon people came to give him alms, food, and supplies because they were
so impressed with his charity. Once when a fire broke out in the house,
John ran back into the burning building countless times, carrying the
sick out on his back. Unemployed men came to the door, and he found
them work. When the archbishop called John to his office because people
complained that John kept tramps and immoral women in his hospital, he
was silenced by John's humility. John fell on his knees, saying, "I
know of no bad person in my hospital except myself, who am unworthy to
eat the bread of the poor." Another bishop who invited John to supper
was so impressed by his humility that he called him John of God.
John attracted many helpers. After his death, these formed a religious
community called the Brothers Hospitallers.
John died of a disease he contracted while saving a drowning man; his
illness was made worse because he had exhuasted himself. When he
realized he was dying, John went over all the hospital accounts,
revised the rules and schedules of his staff, and appointed a leader to
take his place. He died kneeling before the altar in his hospital
Good Saint John, I honor thee as the model of penitents, for thou didst receive the grace to give up a sinful life and to atone for thy sins by untiring labors in behalf of the poor and sick. Obtain for me the grace from God to be truly sorry for my sins, to make atonement for them and never again offend God. Aid me in mastering my evil inclinations and temptations, and in avoiding all occasions of sin. Through thine intercession may I obtain the grace from Jesus and Mary to fulfill faithfully all the duties of my state of life and to practice those virtues which are needful for my salvation. Help me to belong to God and Our Lady in life and in death through perfect love. May my life, like thine, be spent in the untiring service of God and my neighbor.
Since Holy Mother Church also invokes thee in her prayers for the dying, I beg thee to be with me in my last hour and pray for me. As thou didst die kneeling before a crucifix, may I find strength, consolation and salvation in the Cross of my Redeemer, and through His tender mercy and the prayers of Our Lady, and through thine intercession, attain to eternal life.
Litany of Saint John of GodLORD, have mercy on us.
CHRIST, have mercy on us.
LORD, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Health of the sick, pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.
Help of Christians, pray for us.
St. John of God, pray for us.
St. John, converted from a sinful life, pray for us.
St. John, lover of the poor, pray for us.
St. John, father of the needy, pray for us.
St. John, servant of the sick, pray for us.
St. John, friend of those in distress, pray for us.
St. John, protector of virgins, widows, and orphans, pray for us.
St. John, zealous for the conversion of sinners, pray for us.
St. John, dedicated to atonement, pray for us.
St. John, heroic in self-sacrifice, pray for us.
St. John, eager for humiliations, pray for us.
St. John, model of humility, pray for us.
St. John, example of penitents, pray for us.
St. John, filled with Divine love, pray for us.
St. John, victim of love for thy neighbor, pray for us.
St. John, apostle of Christian Charity, pray for us.
St. John, consoler of the afflicted, pray for us.
St. John, fervent in prayer, pray for us.
St. John, ardent lover of Jesus Crucified, pray for us.
St. John, devoted son of Our Lady, pray for us.
St. John, favored with a vision of Jesus and Mary, pray for us.
St. John, visited and helped by the Archangel Raphael, pray for us.
St. John, miraculously protected from fire, pray for us.
St. John, afflicted with disease, pray for us.
St. John, most patient in suffering, pray for us.
St. John, who died on thy knees holding the crucifix, pray for us.
St. John, helper of the dying, pray for us.
St. John, founder of the Order of the Hospitaller Brothers, pray for us.
St. John, Patron of hospitals and the sick, pray for us.
St. John, wonder-worker for the sick and diseased, pray for us.
St. John, special Patron of those suffering with heart disease, pray for us.
St. John, the Heart Saint, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O glorious Saint John of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray.
O God, Thou didst enable Saint John of God, who was inflamed with love of Thee, to walk unhurt through flames, and by him Thou didst enrich Thy Church with a new religious Order. Grant through the help of his merits, that our vices may be healed by the fire of Thy love, and that we may receive remedies which will help us reach eternal life. Through Christ Our Lord.
From The Heart Saint----St. John of God
by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D.
by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D.