John of God

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Feast Day: March 8 Canonized: October 16, 1690
Beatified: September 21, 1630


John of God knew that many poor people could not take care of themselves. Often if poor people got sick, no one helped them get better. John thought that animals were taken care of better than these poor and sick people. He decided to do something about it. Today he is the patron saint of the sick, nurses, and hospitals.

Born on March 8, 1495, in Portugal, John grew up in Spain. When he was 24, he worked for a family taking care of their animals. The family took care of John and saw to it that he received an education. When he was a young man, France and Spain fought with each other. John became a soldier and was nearly captured by the French. He believed that a miracle made possible by the Virgin Mary kept him safe.

After he finished fighting in the war, he became a shepherd for a wealthy woman. It was while he tended these sheep that it occurred to John that many sick people did not receive even the care that the sheep did.

At about the same time, John claimed that the Christ child appeared to him. The child told John that Granada would be his cross. John immediately went to Granada where he met John of Avila. John of Avila warned people about the evils of wealth. According to John of Avila, anyone who suffered for Christ would be rewarded. John of God took this seriously. He began yelling out, beating himself, and pulling out his hair so that he might suffer for God. It didn’t take long before he was taken to an insane asylum where he was severely punished and put into solitary confinement.

John of Avila came to see John and told him enough was enough. If he really wanted to please God, John should do something useful. John of God ended up staying in the asylum for a while to help care for the patients there. Eventually he gathered enough money to open a small hospital. John took care of people who were sick and also told them about Jesus. At this hospital people not only received medical attention but their spiritual needs were met, too. Many people admired what John was doing and gave him more money to build a bigger hospital.

Not all people liked what John was doing, however. People accused him of taking in tramps and corrupted people. The archbishop asked John if this was true. John replied by saying that the only bad person he knew of at the hospital was himself!

John became quite ill from caring for people who had contagious diseases. On his 55th birthday in 1550, he knelt at the hospital’s altar to pray and died on his knees.

John was canonized in 1690 and is known as the patron saint of booksellers, of firefighters, and of hospitals and the sick. Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 4, chapter 15
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