St. John of God
Feast Day: March 08
Born: 1495 :: Died: 1550
St. John was born at Montemoro Novo, Evora in Portugal to poor, but deeply Christian parents. John was a restless boy. For a while he was a shepherd, then a soldier, then a storekeeper. During his adult years he travelled over much of Europe. He and his friends wandered far away from God and lived bad lives.
By the time John was forty, he began to feel empty and sad about the life he was wasting away. In church he heard a preaching of the holy missionary, John of Avila and John realized what a sinner he had become. He began to weep right out loud.
In the days that followed, St. John of Avila helped John begin his life again with hope and courage. John of God began to live differently. Prayer and penance became part of his daily life.
The bishop then gave him the name “John of God” because he changed his selfish life completely and truly became "of God." John of God began to realize how much poverty and suffering filled the lives of people.
He began nursing the sick in the hospitals and asylums. Then he found that many people were too poor to have hospital care. Who would take care of them? He decided that, for the love of God, he would.
When he was forty-five, John rented a house at Granada in Spain to care for the poor, sick, homeless and unwanted. The house became a small hospital where every person in need was welcomed. Many of his patients and those who came to help got converted. John gradually formed a religious order for the care of the poor called Brothers of St. John of God.
Some people must have wondered if John was as holy as he seemed. Once, a marquis disguised himself as a beggar and knocked on John's door, asking for alms. John cheerfully gave him all the money he had.
The marquis went away very impressed. The next day a messenger arrived at John's door with a letter of explanation from the Marquis and the money was also returned. In addition, the marquis sent 150 gold crowns. He also had enough fresh bread, meat and eggs delivered every morning to the hospital for all the patients and staff.
John's motto was: "Labour without stopping. Do all the good works you can while you still have the time." After ten years of hard work in his hospital, St. John became sick himself. He died on his birthday in 1550.
Reflection: "If we look forward to receiving God's mercy, we can never fail to do good so long as we have the strength. For if we share with the poor, out of love for God, whatever he has given to us, we shall receive, according to his promise, a hundredfold in eternal happiness." -St. John of God