St. Camillo De Lellis
In 1567, 17 years old and over 2-meter tall, he followed his elderly father towards Ancona, to be introduced into the army of Venice, in the coming war against the Turks. But his father died at Sant'Elpidio a Mare, so Camillo came back to Bucchianico. Later on he took part to a number of military expeditions, squandering all his wages in gambling and dice. But he felt his life was empty. The words of a friar from San Giovanni Rotondo changed his heart on 2 February 1575, bringing about his conversion.
A wound in the leg took him to the San Giacomo hospital in Rome, where he was appalled at the conditions of the sick. He became a full time nurse and soon was at the head of the hospital staff and services. But he had realized one man was not enough, and he gathered a group of friends involving them in his great plan: devote their life to the service of the sick. In 1582 the Compagnia dei Servi degli Infermi was founded. Four years later Pope Sisto V recognized it as a Congregation, and granted Camillo the right to wear on their robes a red cross.
The appalling conditions of the infirm were not only visible, but also spiritual abandonment. Soon there were priests among Camillo's followers, and finally he decided to become a priest himself. He and his followers offered their assistance in the Hospital of Santo Spirito, but soon also went in search of sick and poor people in the slums and sheds of the city. Pope Gregorio XIV made their congregation into a Religious order, the Ordine dei Ministri degli Infermi, in 1591. Nowadays the Camillians are all over the world, offering their physical and spiritual assistance where the human being is weak and suffering.
He was back in Bucchianico only after he had become a priest. After 1600 his visits to Bucchianico increased. In 1605 he started the construction of the Convent. His fellow citizens did not believe their eyes: he had left an unruly, fiery young man, he returned an apostle of faith, a forceful educator and reproacher of vices. He founded a catechism school, and obliged the Lord of the place to open a medical room and a public pharmacy.
Camillo died in Rome on 14 July 1614, and was made a saint in 1746.
- Official website of the Camilliani order and the celebrations for the 400th anniversary of St. Camillo's death (2014) opening on 14 July 2013
- Facebook Page of the Santuario of St. Camillo in Bucchianico
- Official website of Comune of Bucchianico
San Camillo in Art
The scene depicted is inspired by an episode narrated by Sanzio Cicatelli, the biographer of the Saint. On the night of December 24, 1598 Camillo de Lellis, foreseeing the flooding of the Tiber from its banks, suggested to the Prior of the hospital of Santo Spirito in Sassia to move sick and infirm to the top floor of the building, thus saving them [The painting is preserved in the Museo di Roma].
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