Saints of Mercy Show Us the Way

St. Camillus de Lellis, Feast Day is July 18
This saint reminds us of the Corporal Work of Mercy to care for the sick.

During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, how do we become merciful like our heavenly father and also how do we open our hearts to receive God’s mercy in our lives? Central Florida has witnessed dedicated medical personnel care for the sick and dying from the Pulse shooting tragedy this past month. These heroic individuals are a reminder of the corporal work of mercy to care for the sick. St. Camillus de Lellis also reminds the faithful of this corporal work of mercy and his life gives witness to the truth that God calls each person, regardless of their circumstances, to love and care for others.


About St. Camillus de Lellis

Probably the furthest thing from Camillus de Lellis’ mind was sainthood.

He was born on May 25, 1550 in Bocchianico, Italy to a soldier father and a mother who was 50 years old at the time of his birth.

His father was away most of the time and Camillus had inherited his bad temper. He was not a pleasant individual to be near. After his mother died, he was raised by relatives who did not pay much attention to the boisterous young man with a bad attitude. He also developed an addition to gambling.

He eventually joined his father in the war against the Turks. After his regiment disbanded, he worked at a Capuchin friary as a laborer. He was continually bothered by a leg wound that would not heal.

Despite Camillus’ difficult past, the guardian of the friary saw a more compassionate side in him.  The young man had a religious conversion in 1575 and entered the novitiate of the Capuchin friars but was denied access to religious life. He moved to Rome where he became a patient at the Hospital of St. James. Camillus later became a caregiver at the institution, and then its director. He led a pure life and practiced many penances.

Camillus assembled a group of like-minded men to improve patient care at the hospital. He founded the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Infirm (M.I.).  Interestingly enough, the order’s cassocks bear a large red cross on the front, centuries before the International Red Cross was established.

Camillus cared for soldiers on the battlefield and in Rome when its citizens were suffering from Bubonic plague. He is credited with ridding the city of the plague and the famine that followed. 


How can you follow the example of St. Camillus to care for the sick?

Starting with your own family and friends, take note of who is not feeling well and offer a comforting meal, offer to drive them to medical appointments or just listen to their concerns.

Find out from your parish how to be a part of the Ministry to the Sick. Also, Catholic Charities of Central Florida has volunteer opportunities in each of its three, free clinics. They are in great need of medical professionals but also need translators and office help.  The many volunteer opportunities and application processes can be found at

The Diocese of Orlando Mission Office organizes medical and surgical mission trips to the Dominican Republic. For more information, contact 407-246-4890 or