Monday, March 08, 2010

Little John of God

Saint John of God (aka João Cidade, 1495-1550) was born in in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal, to a once-prominent family which had fallen on hard times. It was their faith that sustained them, even as the mother died when he was a child, and the father entered the monastery.

As a young man, John was a shepherd for a farmer, who was so impressed by his workmanship that he offered John his daughter for marriage and inheritance of his property. But the bride of John's desire was the Church herself. Under the spiritual guidance of Saint John of Ávila, the young John resolved to dedicate his life to caring for the poor and the sick.

VIDEO: Los Lobos performs 'Little John Of God' with Buddy Miller and Emmylou Harris at the Bridge School Benefit, Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA, October 30, 2005.

From his base in Grenada, Spain, he organized a band of disciples who later became the Brothers Hospitallers of St John of God. Such was the reputation of their work that, at one point, they were assigned to tend to the medical needs of the Holy Father himself.

John died on this day in 1550, at the age of fifty-five. He was canonized in 1690, and the date of his entry into eternal life is his feast day. He is the patron saint of alcoholics, bookbinders, booksellers, firefighters, heart patients, hospitals and hospital workers, nurses, pubilshers, and the sick and dying.

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