Camillus de Lellis

Image

Camillus' 65 year old mother had a dream that a yet unborn son of hers would wear a red cross on his chest, leading many others wearing that same emblem. She knew in her heart that this was a sign from God and did everything in her power and influence to facilitate God's wishes. She even went so far as to give birth to Camillus in a stable, in an effort to receive favors from the Holy Family. Despite this most auspicious start in life, Camillus led the life of a rebellious teenager, falling into the ways of street gangs of the time. It is reported that, as a young man, Camillus was quite the physical specimen, towering above all others - a trait that served him well in his not so gentile surroundings. At the age of 19, he joined the army to fight against the Turks under the military command of his father. In battle, Camillus injured his leg. This injury never properly healed, leaving an open wound that would plague him the rest of his life. He made trips back and forth from the hospital in Rome and the army, but as the cures were only short-lived, he was discharged from the army. Completely broke due to a gambling habit he acquired in the army, Camillus resorted to begging in the streets. One day, a member of the Cathedral of Monfredonia saw Camillus outside the cathedral's gates and he immediately took pity on Camillus, giving him a job as an assistant to a mason. While in that capacity repairing a monastery, Camillus met the Capuchin Fathers. It was the influence of these man that resulted in his conversion and repentance. Camillus later joined that same monastery; however, due to the recurring problems with his ulcerated leg, Camillus was forced to take leaves of absence and was finally dismissed. Camillus returned home. He was never cured. He devoted the rest of his life to helping the sick and was ordained in 1584. During his final years, Camillus suffered from many other painful ailments, including a rupture, renal colic and stomach cramps. The origin of the Red Cross symbol we are so familiar with today is the symbol in his mother's dreams. It became the symbol for the Order of Ministers of the Sick which was founded by Saint Camillus in 1586.

 The Catholic Encyclopedia