25 May 1550: the Birth into this World of Camillus de Lellis

Commemoration of his birth and of the Camillian Martyrs to Charity

By Fr. Alfredo M. Tortorella MI

Camillus de Lellis was born on 25 May 1550 in Bucchianico di Chieti in Abruzzi. His mother, Camilla de’ Compellis, who was over sixty, that day in the early morning was in the church of the patron saint of the town, St. Urban. Indeed, it was the feast day of that saint and of that town. Suddenly afflicted by labour pains, she reached home or, rather, the stable under her home, just in time to give birth to the little Camillus, the only child of Giovanni de’ Lellis, a captain in the army of Charles V.

The Camillians celebrate with joy the commemoration of the birth of their founder and on the same day, following an ancient tradition, they also commemorate the Camillian Martyrs to Charity, that is say all those religious – Ministers of the Sick – who down the centuries have given their lives obeying the fourth vow wanted by Camillus, that is to say to care for the sick even if plague-stricken, which today takes the form of to care for the sick even if this puts one’s own life a risk.

In the Archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-S. Giovanni Rotondo, the Camillian religious celebrated 25 May in two hospitals: the St. Camillus Hospital of Manfredonia and the St. Michael Hospital of Monte Sant’Angelo where – in their respective chapels – two new icons for public veneration were blessed.

At the hospital in Manfredonia, the Holy Mass was celebrated on 24 May. The chaplain, Fra Giovanni Lauriola OFM, was very happy to welcome and bless the painting of St. Camillus. The Association of Catholic Doctors, the AVO and the ‘Fire of Love’ RnS Group were present. These last animated the Holy Mass with their singing. The AVO prepared paper roses to be given to the infirm brother and sisters in the wards.

On 25 May, at the hospital in Monte Sant’Angelo, Fr. Aldo Milazzo MI involved in the Holy Mass various health-care workers and volunteers of the RSA, the hospice and the polyclinic, who with joy and devotion took part in the celebration presided over by Fr. Rosario Messina MI.

The various health-care workers and those who came to the two celebrations in this way once again understood the charitable spirit of St. Camillus, his spirituality and dedication – a perennial stimulus to those who because of their profession or a free choice dedicate themselves to service to the suffering. May his protection from heaven and his example always be a reason for hope for those who suffer and gospel charity for those who dedicate themselves to alleviating their suffering!