St John of God (1495-1550)

Feast Day: 8th March

Patron Saint Booksellers, Hospitals, Nurses, the Mentally Ill and the Dying

João Cidade a.k.a. St John of God was a solider-shepherd-bookseller turned healthcare saint born 8th March 1495.

His dramatic conversion experience occurred whilst listening to the preaching of St John of Avila in Andalusia, Spain. In the period following this, Cidade gained a strong conviction that he wanted to dedicate his life to serving the poor and sick. He started doing this alone in a humble way with very minimal facilities and scarce resources. However, before long a few generous benefactors saw that what he was doing was good and supported him to build a hospital. During this period many dedicated their lives to helping Cidade in his mission to serve and love Christ in the poor and sick.

St John of God died on his birthday in 1550 aged 55. He was canonised in 1690. A few years after his death those who were his followers were recognised as a religious order and called the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, who today serve in over 300 healthcare centres across over 40 countries worldwide with an emphasis on care for the elderly and patients with mental illness.

John of God is patron saint of booksellers, hospitals, the mentally ill and dying as well as firefighters (after apparently once saving patients from a hospital fire, depicted on the right).

Saint John of God, help us to act out of love as soon as we feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Teach us to overcome any temptations or hurdles which delay us in our service of God. Please guide us nearer to Jesus each day and help us witness to His glory through our lives. Amen.

See more about the Hospitallers:

Image: Manuel Gómez-Moreno González. San Juan de Dios salvando a los enfermos de incendio del Hospital Real. c.1880. Current location: Museo de Bellas Artes de Granada