The Word Among Us

May 2008 Issue

The Saint of the First Red Cross

How Camillus of Lellis Became an Ambassador of Mercy

By: Louise Perrotta

The Saint of the First Red Cross: How Camillus of Lellis Became an Ambassador of Mercy by Louise Perrotta

If you’ve ever been tempted to think that you’re not cut out for sanctity, consider the case of Camillus of Lellis. Here is a saint—the patron of hospitals, health care workers, and the sick—whose burning love for God effected a widespread reform of patient care. “I’ll never forget the sight,” wrote one person who saw six-foot-six Camillus in action. “When he was attending a sick person, he looked like a hen with her chicks or like a mother at her child’s bedside.”

And yet for the first third of his life, nothing about Camillus suggested a saint in the making. The man who would become such a gripping...

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