Science & Culture

John of God

John of God was born in 1495 in Portugal and died at the age of 55 in Granada, Spain. He served as a soldier under Charles V, an experience that is said to have prepared him for apostolic life. He received the sacrament of reconciliation from John of Avila who later becomes his spiritual mentor. As penance, he pretended to be mentally ill and learned of the humiliations experienced by that population. He was placed in an insane asylum, where he endured physical punishment and torture until a visit from John of Avila led to his release. John of God then established a hospital and devoted the rest of his life to caring for the sick and the poor in a manner that ensured that they be treated with dignity and kindness. John organized his followers into the Order of Hospitallers, also known as the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, who care for the sick in countries around the world. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII on October 16, 1690, and later was named the patron saint of hospitals, the sick, nurses, firefighters, alcoholics, and booksellers.