CADIS message for the 28th year of commemoration of the Martyrs of Charity



“Certainly, the heroic offering of life, inspired and sustained by charity, expresses a true, complete, and exemplary imitation of Christ, and thus is deserving of that admiration that the community of faithful customarily reserves to those who have voluntarily accepted the martyrdom of blood or have exercised Christian virtues to a heroic degree”. (Pope Francis, Motu Proprio “Maiorem hac dilectionem”, July 11, 2017).

It has been more than two years since the COVID 19 pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a public health emergency of global concern (March 2020). Over 500 million cases and 6.1 million deaths globally have been recorded. While some countries have started to lift severe public health measures with due regard to the minimum standards as the vaccines are rolled out constantly. Still, a significant number of countries are struggling to reach an advantage level of recovery. Most of the least developed countries are burdened by huge international debts, which is to the advantage of the highly developed countries who dictate the conditions of the national debts.

On February 24, 2022, war broke out when Ukraine was invaded militarily in what Russia referred to as a “special military operation.” From then until April 7, Russian aggression against Ukraine has resulted in 4.4 million refugees, 7.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), and 1,611 civilian deaths. (cf. Its impact is compounded domestically and globally as oil and gas supplies are hampered and seriously slow the economic recovery of many countries around the world after the pandemic.

The current global situation has threatened the people’s hopes, obscured their paths towards full recovery, and made some surrender to their fate. On the other hand, it strengthens the human conviction that only when global solidarity is intensified will we be able to overcome our struggles, as we learned from the experience with the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, we will celebrate the 28th Commemoration of the Camillian Martyrs of Charity on May 25, 2022.

On May 25, 2022, the Camillians will commemorate the death of more than 300 Camillians who lost their lives in serving the victims of the plagues and war in Italy, Spain, Hungary, and Croatia during the first four centuries of the life of the Order. In 2022, the commemoration coincides with the 472nd birthday of our founder, St. Camillus de Lellis.

Why do we commemorate? What does an event of the past has something to contribute to the present crisis as we face its impact daily?

We want to remember and connect with our past and make it alive today, especially in this period of global crisis. We want to know, investigate, learn, create a connection, and apply the lessons of the past in the present. In our search for our charismatic identity and belongingness, remembering this heroic tradition is an essential aspect of our prophetic heritage. We heard some of our confreres who opted to serve the COVID patients in the isolation wards of the healthcare facility and countless confreres who maintained their ministry to the sick in the hospitals and other facilities.

We want to celebrate by highlighting the values of commitment, solidarity, self-denial, generosity, and option for the poor. These values construct the DNA of our ministry, which sustains its vitality, radicalness, and relevance amidst constant mutation of the global social condition. We don’t want to be different but to become radicals by making a difference in the lives of the COVID 19 affected persons and the war refugees.

We want to imitate the martyrs of charity by espousing and embracing the learnings and values which will help us to live our witnessing of the merciful love of Christ more accurately, relevant and meaningful.

Though the present situation reduces the occasion to exercise our fourth vow today as the martyrs of charity did, the invitation to live in fidelity to our fourth vow remains. “In the life of a Minister of the Sick, the fourth vow is neither an adjunct nor defense. It is a substantive vow. His life, his religious life, cannot be concretized without it. From this base, the task in hand, even if it has to be pursued to a heroic degree, is to be seen as a total response to the love of God, who has given himself to the Minister.” (E. Spogli)

For these, we are inviting you to prepare the feast of the Camillian Martyrs of Charity by praying the novena prepared by CADIS in 5 different languages beginning from May 16-24, 2022, in your respective community. The primary intention of the novena is to pray for those who are at the frontlines and all those affected by this global crisis.

Rome, April 18, 2022

Fr. José Ignacio Santaolalla Sáez, MI