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Saint Camillus de Lellis
Saint Camillus de Lellis
Founder of Religious Order and Universal Patron of the sick, hospitals and nurses
Born May 25, 1550(1550-05-25), Bucchianico, Province of Chieti, Abruzzo, Kingdom of Naples (now southern Italy)
Died July 14, 1614 (aged 64), Rome
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1742, Rome by Pope Benedict XIV
Canonized 1746, Rome by Pope Benedict XIV
Major shrine Church of Mary Magdalene, Rome, Italy
Feast 14 July
18 July (General Roman Calendar, 1762-1969; and USA currently)
Patronage sick; hospitals; nurses
The memorial tablet in the main courtyard of the Ca' Granda, in Milan.

Saint Camillus de Lellis (25 May 1550 – 14 July 1614) was an Italian monk who founded a religious order.



Camillo de Lellis was born at Bucchianico (now in Abruzzo, then part of the Kingdom of Naples).

His mother died while he was still a child and his father was an officer in both the Neapolitan and French royal armies. As a consequence Camillus grew up neglected. Camillus joined the Venetian army while still only a youth. After his regiment was disbanded in 1574 Camillus worked in a hospital for incurables, however his aggressive nature and excessive gambling led to his dismissal. He later rejoined the Venetian army and fought in a war against the Turks. After the war he later returned to the hospital in Rome from which he had been dismissed, he became a nurse and later director of the hospital.

Camillus established the Order of Clerks Regular Ministers to the Sick, better known as Camillians. His experience in wars led him to establish a group of health care workers who would assist soldiers on the battlefield. The red cross on their cassock remains a symbol of the order today. Members also devoted themselves to the plague-stricken. Camillus was so distressed at how hopeless plague cases were treated during his time, that he formed the "Brothers of the Happy Death," for plague victims. It was for the efforts of the Brothers and his alleged supernatural healings that the people of Rome credited Camillus with ridding the city of a certain plague and, for a time, Camillus became known as the "Patron Saint of Rome".

In 1594 Camillus also led his friars to Milan where they attended to the sick of the Ca' Granda, the main hospital of the city. A memorial tablet in the main courtyard of the Ca' Granda commemorates his presence there.

Throughout his life Camillus' ailments caused him suffering, but he allowed no one to wait on him and would crawl to visit the sick when unable to stand and walk. It is said that Camillus possessed the gifts of healing and prophecy. He died in Rome in 1614.

Camillus was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in the year 1742, and later canonized by him four years later in 1746.


Popularly, Camillus is the patron saint of nurses, and against gambling. His mortal remains are located in the altar in the Church of Mary Magdalene, Rome, Italy, along with several of his relics. Also on display is the cross which allegedly spoke to Camillus, and asked him, "Why are you afraid? Do you not realize that this is not your work but mine?" which has become the motto associated with St. Camillus, as well as healthcare workers who were inspired by him.

The Congregation of the Servants of the Sick of St Camillus, the Daughters of St Camillus, the Secular Institutes of Missionaries of the Sick Christ Our Hope, of the Kamillianische Schwestern and of the Lay Camillian Family, were born later of the charism and spirituality of St. Camillus.

St Camillus' feast day was originally inserted in the Roman Calendar in 1762 for celebration on 18 July, since 14 July, the day of his death, was at that time taken up with the feast of Saint Bonaventure. It was then given the rank of Double, changed in 1962 to that of "Third-Class Feast"[1] and in 1969 to that of an obligatory "Memorial", when it was also moved to the anniversary of his death, 14 July. In the USA it is currently an optional "Memorial" celebrated on 18 July, because on 14 July there is the obligatory "Memorial" of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.

See also


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