The saint for March 08
Saint John of God
Optional Memorial, Feast-Order of Hospitallers
Roman Calendar

born 1495 Portugal
Died 1550
Canonized 1690
St. John of God had a tumultuous life. When he was only eight years old he ran away from home in order to experience adventures. He joined the army in the war between France and Spain, and experienced injury, near capture and near execution. During all of this he led a far from godly life, but his near capture by the French so frightened him that he vowed to amend his life.

He spent time as a shepherd and as a servant to a family exiled to Africa, whom he befriended in his characteristically impetuous manner. At the age of 41, he felt led to open a religious bookstore in Granada, and he was pursuing this when he heard a sermon by St John of Avila which so pierced his soul that he was overwhelmed by grief and remorse and experienced what today we might call a psychic break.

He wandered the streets mad with remorse, and indeed was taken for mad, and committed to an asylum, where he was brutalized. St. John of Avila became his staunch friend during this time, and helped him to regain his composure and to understand how best to pursue his life in light of his conversion. After his release from the asylum, the homeless St. John of God spent his nights in the enclosed porch of a friend, who took pity on him.

It was during this time that St. John began to desire fervently to help the poor, the sick and the insane, and began to invite those he encountered on the streets back to his humble porch, where he could care for them. From this humble beginning sprang both the Order of Charity and the Order of Hospitallers, both of which St. John of God founded.

St. John took that aspect of his woundedness which so characterized him, his great impetuosity, and turned it into unhesitating service of his brothers, unhesitating surrender to the leading of God.

He died as he had lived. While retrieving driftwood from the swollen river he leapt in to save another man who had fallen in and was drowning. He was already sick, and the effort of his heroic rescue attempt was too much for him. He succumbed to pneumonia on his 55th birthday, March 8th 1550, while in prayer before a crucifix.

Prayer of St John of God
Lead me Oh Lord to the time when I can follow your will completely!

"Whether you like it or not, you will grow apart from men, but Christ is faithful and always with you, for Christ provides all things. Let us always give thanks to him. Amen."
--from a letter by St. John of God

Pray to St. John of God for an Increase in Charity
Patron of: Dying, Sick, Poor, Mentally Ill, Booksellers
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