Monday, 16 April 2012

St. John of God

Icon, St. John of God, by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Patron of Hospitals, nurses, heart patients, firefighters and booksellers
[I am sure you can easily figure out why I wanted to present St. John of God today!]

John of God (Portuguese: São João de Deus, born João Cidade Duarte) (March 8, 1495 – March 8, 1550) was a Portuguese-born saint, who became one of Spain's leading religious figures.  John of God was born in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal, into a once-prominent family that was impoverished but had great religious faith. His mother died when he was only a small child, and his father joined a monastic order. One version of his life tells us that he was so captivated by an itenerent priest who had been preaching at his parish that he left home at age 8 to follow him. This, some say, was the reason for his mother's early death. As well, his father now left alone, chose to enter a monastery where he lived in great holiness until his death. The saint never saw either of them again.

St. John of Avila
Spiritual director for St. John of God
Icon by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

As a young man, John worked as a shepherd for a farmer who was very pleased with his strength and diligent work. John had an offer to marry the farmer's daughter and become heir to the property; he refused because he wanted to pursue a spiritual life in the service of God. He moved to Spain, where he served as a soldier under Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and fought a few battles. After many heroic exploits, he worked disseminating religious books, using the recent movable type printing press of Johannes Gutenberg to provide people with the Bible. He experienced a major religious conversion on St. Sebastian's day (January 20), while listening to a sermon by Saint John of Avila, who was later to become his spiritual mentor and would encourage him in his quest to improve the life of the poor. He then went temporarily into what appeared to be a state of madness and was subsequently thrown into an insane asylum, where he recovered after a visit from John of Ávila and realized that the poor and needy deserved better treatment than he had received. He decided to devote the rest of his life to caring for the sick and the poor. Settling in Granada, he expended all his energy in caring for the neediest people of the city. Slowly he drew to himself a dedicated circle of disciples who felt called to join him in this service. John organized his followers into the Order of Hospitallers, now better known as the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God, who care for the sick in countries around the world. One mark of honour to his labours is that this order has been officially entrusted with the medical and dental care of the pope. He died on March 8, 1550, his 55th birthday. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII on October 16, 1690, and later named the patron saint of hospitals, heart patients, nurses, firefighters, alcoholics, and booksellers. John's feast day is commemorated on March 8.

Knights of St. John of God
Investiture Ceremony
 The Order of Knights of Saint John of God was founded for the custody and defense of the Holy Grave and Sacred Relics of Saint John of God, founder of the Brothers Hospitallers. These relics are venerated in the Church of Saint John of God in Granada, Spain, built in 1757.

The saint's remains have been hidden twice since his death: the first time in 1808, due to fear of their profanation by the Napoleonic army, and the second time due to the attacks on the Catholic Church by the Socialist party during the Spanish Civil War. This was part of a campaign of the burning of a large number of churches in Granada and all over Spain, and the murder of hundreds of clergy and members of religious Orders.

"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. What a fine profit, what a blessed reward! With outstretched arms he begs us to turn toward him, to weep for our sins, and to become the servants of love, first for ourselves, then for our neighbors. Just as water extinguishes a fire, so love wipes away sin."  St. John of God
St. John of God, please pray for us and I ask for your special intercession on my behalf on Thursday the 19th.  Amen.

I have mentioned my friend, Rose Marie Nicolucci, previously when showing you a couple of her paintings.  She is what I call a "real artist" in that she has seriously studied and trained in the field of art plus she has artistic talent which she has developed over the years.  As well, she teaches the occasional course and gives the occasional workshop.  Her schedule can be found at
So, when she told me some weeks ago that she was going to have an exhibition at a local gallery, I said right away that I would be glad to take some space and time on my blog to let my readers know about it.  So, here is the announcement as well as a couple of my favourite works by Rose Marie.  I am sure you will agree that her exhibit will undoubtedly be well worth your time.  Plus, if you go on the "meet the artist" day, you will get to introduce yourself to a wonderful lady -- someone well worth knowing. 

Poster advertising the showing from May 6 to 16, 2012
For more information go to

Arbutus Tree by Rose Marie Nicolucci
One of my favourites

Sunflowers (not its proper name) by Rose Marie Nicolucci
I really do enjoy her sunflower paintings


Not too much time left tonight as I am getting very tired and need to go and rest, but I do want to tell you a little bit more about Suki and her "icon" letter S.

Her behaviour hasn't changed much since last posting; however, she has touched the big, black letter S a few more times.  Also, as you may recall, I asked for your response concerning this behaviour and I have received a couple of comments which I want to share with you.

"Something different to look,smell at. Something in the scent of it has attracted her! Enjoy !"

"Also if it is like a plastic material like vinyl records, this can sometimes give a static shock which an old cat i had used to quite enjoy and wait for us to turn on the tv just she could receive one. also i wonder if they see the same way as babies do, in black and white?"

And my favourite one:

"or maybe she wants a u,k,i to join it lol cats can be fussy!!"

One very interesting thing that is occurring because of Suki's behaviour is that every time I see her sitting quietly in front of the big letter, I am reminded to pray! So, I find myself saying a little prayer and sometimes more than just a little one as I pause to wait for her to finish whatever it is she is doing! Very strange, indeed.

As for me, I won't be writing again until after the procedure -- depending on how energetic I am feeling. Friday should actually be the next regular posting; however, I may not make it until later. If you want more details after Thursday and don't want to wait until the next posting, then you can always write me at and I will send you a quick reply.

May the peace of God be with us all.
St. John of God, pray for us -- especially all nurses and heart patients.

1 comment:

Sallie (Sarah) said...

I received the following letter this morning and thought you all might be interested in seeing it.
"Dear Sallie

Thanks for your painting and story of Saint John of God on your website today.

I will be interested to know about your awareness of this little-known saint and his significance for you. In Canada the Brothers are in Montreal and Quebec; in the USA in Los Angeles and in New Jersey. We will join with you in asking for John’s intercession on Thursday.

Contrary to the opening sentence of your biography John was not a friar, he remained a lay man and as such is a model of sanctity for lay people. Of John’s five fulltime helpers at the time of his death two of them had been enemies; one had murdered the others brother. John brought about reconciliation between them and they devoted the remainder of their lives to assisting John.

It was not until twenty years after his death that John’s followers petitioned Rome and were in 1572 approved as a Mendicant Order.

I had forgotten that John’s relics on two occasions had to be hidden and protected. They rest today in the Basilica of Saint John of God in Granada.

Renewed thanks for your work in promoting devotion to the Patron Saint of the Sick.

These two websites may be of interest to you.

In Hospitality,

Br Finnian.

Br Finnian Gallagher OH
Provincial Secretary
Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God
Granada House
Co Dublin

In this connected world we now live in, you never know who you are going to cross paths with next! It is really exciting.