St. Camillus

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Camillus de Lellis
St. Camillus was born in 1550 to a mother who was nearly 60 years old. He was a problem child from the start, not helped by the fact that his irresponsible father went all around fighting in various armies; his father had practically every vice there is, especially gambling.
Camillus had a violent temper and was stubborn and lazy; his mother died when he was only 12 years old. He rarely went to school, and like his father, soon became addicted to gambling. But one thing could be said for him: he never forgot his mother’s love of God. When he was 17, he joined his father as a hired soldier. By the age of 19 he knew every sin there was; like his father, he became an expert gambler. Wherever they went, father and son were the center of gambling. They hired themselves out, fighting for whoever paid them, and living as they pleased. But one day his father died, and Camillus was on his own.
Now he had a festering wound on his leg that just would not heal, and so he went to a hospital in Rome. Lacking funds, he made a deal with them: he would work there if they would tend to his wound. For a time this worked out well, but soon he obtained a deck of cards, and involved the other workers in gambling. As duties were neglected, amid frequent quarrels, Camillus was once again sent on his way, his leg unhealed. For two more years he fought in various armies. He joined a group of soldiers under a man named Fabio, the chief attraction being, that every man there was addicted to gambling.  
But after fighting in North Africa, their company broke up and he became nothing but a homeless tramp. He went straight to the gambling dens, and there he staked everything he had: his sword, his gun, his coat, and he lost them all. It might well have been, that there was no case more hopeless in all of Europe, than that of Camillus de Lellis.    
But it so happened that someone saw him begging for food, and offered him work in building a monastery. He felt the goodwill of the man who had offered him work, and the monastery brought back memories of his mother, and of God. He worked hard, and turned away again and again from temptations to gamble; for almost a year he had kept from gambling, and he learned to work as he never had in his life. He returned to the hospital in Rome and was reinstated as a servant. For 4 years he worked there, and his leg finally healed. In time, he saw that the more he gave himself to helping others, the happier he was. He loved the patients, and organized groups to help the sick; seeing the need for priests in the hospital, he himself became a priest. Ordained at age 34, the rest of his life would be devoted to the sick and the dying.
Camillus became the greatest apostle of charity. No one knew the slums and ghettos of Rome better than him. One time, he bandaged a dog’s wounded leg and said to the dog: ‘I too, once had a bad leg.’
Camillus always remembered that he was a great sinner, but at his death he never tired of thanking God for everything, through the Blood of Jesus Christ.
St. Camillus is the patron saint of hospital workers, sick people, and nurses.

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