jeudi 8 mars 2012

Saint JEAN de DIEU, religieux, confesseur et fondateur



Saint Jean de Dieu, religieux

A huit ans, pour des raisons que l'on ignore, le petit portugais Joao Ciudad fait une fugue et se retrouve, vagabond, sur les routes. Pendant 33 ans, il va mener une vie d'errance : enfant-volé puis abandonné par un prêtre-escroc, il parcourt l'Espagne. Tour à tour berger, soldat, valet, mendiant, journalier, infirmier, libraire... Le vagabond, un moment occupé à guerroyer contre les Turcs en Hongrie, se retrouve à Gibraltar. Et c'est là qu'un sermon de saint Jean d'Avila le convertit. Il en est si exalté qu'on le tient pour fou et qu’on l'enferme. Puis son dévouement éclot en œuvres caritatives. Tout ce qu'il a découvert et souffert, va le faire devenir bon et miséricordieux pour les misérables. Il collecte pour eux, ouvre un hôpital, crée un Ordre de religieux, l'Ordre de la Charité. L'hôpital qu'il a fondé à Grenade donnera naissance aux Frères Hospitaliers de Saint Jean de Dieu. Au moment de mourir, en 1550, il dira: "Il reste en moi trois sujets d'affliction : mon ingratitude envers Dieu, le dénuement où je laisse les pauvres, les dettes que j'ai contractées pour les soutenir."

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/03/08/5465/-/saint-jean-de-dieu-religieux

SAINT JEAN de DIEU

Fondateur des Frères de la Charité

(1495-1550)

Saint Jean de Dieu naquit en Portugal, de parents pauvres, mais chrétiens. Sa jeunesse, à la différence de celle de la plupart des Saints, fut très orageuse. Âgé de huit ans, il suivit, à l'insu de ses parents, les traces d'un voyageur qui se rendait à Madrid; mais il se perdit et fut réduit à se faire le valet d'un berger. Plus tard, il s'enrôla dans l'armée de Charles-Quint et subit l'entraînement et le mauvais exemple. Il ne fallut pas moins qu'un coup de la Providence pour l'arracher au péril.

Après quelques nouvelles aventures, il apprit la nouvelle de la mort de sa mère et résolut de se convertir. Il tint parole, et dès lors il passa la plus grande partie de ses jours et de ses nuits dans la prière et la pénitence, exerçant à toute occasion, malheureux, lui-même, la charité envers les malheureux. Ce ne fut point là toutefois le terme de ses pérégrinations incertaines; il ne trouva sa voie que plus tard, à l'âge de quarante-cinq ans.

Il s'établit à Grenade, s'y livra à quelque commerce et employa ses économies et les dons de la charité à la fondation d'un hôpital qui prit bientôt de prodigieux accroissements. On vit bien alors que cet homme, traité partout d'abord comme un fou, était un saint.

Pour procurer des aliments à ses nombreux malades, Jean, une hotte sur le dos et une marmite à chaque bras, parcourait les rues de Grenade en criant: "Mes frères, pour l'amour de Dieu, faites-vous du bien à vous-mêmes." Sa sollicitude s'étendait à tous les malheureux qu'il rencontrait; il se dépouillait de tout pour les couvrir et leur abandonnait tout ce qu'il avait, confiant en la Providence, qui ne lui manqua jamais.

Mais Jean, appelé par la voix populaire Jean de Dieu, ne suffisait pas à son oeuvre; les disciples affluèrent; un nouvel Ordre se fondait, qui prit le nom de Frères Hospitaliers de Saint-Jean-de-Dieu, et s'est répandu en l'Europe entière. Peu de Saints ont atteint un pareil esprit de mortification, d'humilité et de mépris de soi-même.

Un jour, la Mère de Dieu lui apparut, tenant en mains une couronne d'épines, et lui dit: "Jean, c'est par les épines que tu dois mériter la couronne du Ciel. -- Je ne veux, répondit-il, cueillir d'autres fleurs que les épines de la Croix; ces épines sont mes roses."

Une autre fois, un pauvre qu'il soignait disparut en lui disant: "Tout ce que tu fais aux pauvres, c'est à Moi que tu le fais." Quand on lit l'histoire émouvante de telles vies, on ne peut s'empêcher de s'écrier: Dieu est admirable dans Ses Saints !

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_jean_de_dieu.html


Jean de Dieu est naît en 1495 à Montemor-o-Novo au Portugal, au sein d’une famille pauvre. Quand il n’avait pas encore 10 ans, ses parents s’établirent à Oropesa en Espagne.

Il commença par mener une vie des plus aventureuses : enlevé enfant par un inconnu, puis abandonné, il devint berger puis, en 1523 s’engagea dans l’armée et participa à de nombreuses guerres, la dernière en 1532 avec Charles Quint contre les Turcs. Ce fut pour lui une dure expérience.

En 1535 il se mit à travailler comme tailleur de pierre pour la fortification de la ville de Ceuta. Il aida, avec ses maigres revenus une noble famille portugaise qui vivait ruiné. Plus tard il alla à Gibraltar, où il se dit vendeur ambulant de livres et de timbres. Il déménagea définitivement à Grenade en 1538 et ouvrit une petite librairie.

C’est là qu’il eut ses premiers contacts avec des livres religieux.

Le 20 janvier 1539, à l’âge de 42 ans il se rendit à un sermon de Jean d'Avila, au cours duquel il eut sa conversion. Les propos de Jean d'Avila provoquèrent en lui un si grand choc qu’il se mit à détruire les livres qu’il vendait, se mit à traverser nu la ville sous les huées des enfants qui le suivaient. Son comportement fut considéré comme celui d'un aliéné et il fut incarcéré dans l’hôpital psychiatrique de l’Hopital Real, avec les fous et les mendiants. Il prend alors la résolution de s’occuper et de servir les malades. Jean d'Avila fut son directeur spirituel, et le poussa faire un pèlerinage au sanctuaire de la Vierge de Guadeloupe, en Estrémadure.

Sorti de l'asile, il fonde à Grenade en Espagne, en 1537, son premier hôpital, selon des conceptions très hardies pour son temps. Des disciples se joignent à lui ; ensemble, ils posent les fondements d'un ordre hospitalier au service des pauvres malades : les Frères de la Charité, appelé de nos jours l'Ordre hospitalier de Saint Jean de Dieu.

Rainer Maria Rilke raconte, dans ses Cahiers de Malte Laurids Brigge (Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge), qu'en train d'agoniser, Saint Jean-de-Dieu se leva soudain pour aller détacher dans un jardin proche un homme qui venait de se pendre.

Il a été proclamé par Léon XIII patron des malades et des hôpitaux en 1886, et par Pie XI, patron des infirmiers et infirmières en 1930.


Saint Jean de Dieu naquit le 8 mars 1495 à Montemor-O-Novo, au diocèse d’Evora, dans la province portugaise d'Alemtéjo, des artisans André et Thérèse Ciudad. Ses parents l’élevèrent dans des sentiments chrétiens. Jean avait huit ans lorsque ses parents donnèrent l’hospitalité à un prêtre qui se rendait à Madrid ; ce prêtre dit tant de bien des œuvres de bienfaisances qui s’accomplissaient en Espagne, que l’enfant s’enfuit en secret de la maison paternelle pour le rejoindre. Ses parents le rechèrent sans succès puis sa mère tomba malade. Un soir, elle dit à son mari : « André, ne le cherche plus, nous ne reverrons pas notre enfant en ce monde ; son ange gardien m’est apparu pour me dire : Ne vous désespérez pas, mais bénissez le Seigneur, je suis chargé de le garder et il est en lieu sûr. » Thérèse ajouta : « Pour moi, je quitte ce monde sans regret ; lorsque je ne serai plus, André, pense à assurer ton salut, consacre-toi à Dieu. » Vingt jours après la disparition de son fils, Thérèse mourut et André, renonçant au monde, entra dans un couvent franciscain de Lisbonne.

Cependant, Jean avait rejoint le prêtre sur la route de Madrid mais, arrivé à Oropeza (Nouvelle-Castille), il fut incapable d’aller plus loin ; le prêtre le confia au mayoral du comte dont il devint l’un des bergers. Dix ans plus tard, Jean qui avait appris à lire, à écrire et à calculer se vit confier l’administration de la ferme du mayoral qui prospéra au delà de toute attente ; son maître fut si content de lui qu’il lui proposa d’épouser sa fille. Or, comme Jean avait fait le vœu de se consacrer uniquement à Dieu et que, malgré ses refus, le mayoral revenait à la charge, il prit la fuite pour s'engager dans les armées de Charles Quint.

Le comte d’Oropeza avait reçu l’ordre de lever des troupes pour débloquer Fontarabie qu’assiégeait une armée française. Pendant cette campagne, sans imiter les mauvais exemples des soudards espagnols, Jean perdit tout de même un peu des pratiques spéciale de la dévotion qu’il avait pour la Sainte Vierge. Alors qu’il était tombé de cheval et laissé sans connaissance sur le bord du chemin où les Français avaient bien des chances de le faire prisonnier, réveillé, il invoqua Marie qui lui apparut pour le ramener sain et sauf dans le camp espagnol. Après avoir été faussement accusé d’avoir volé le butin dont il avait la garde, Jean, sauvé de la pendaison par un officier supérieur, quitta l’armée espagnole. Il passa deux jours à genoux, au bord de la route, à méditer au pied d’un calvaire et se résolut à revenir dans la maison du mayoral qui l’accueillit comme un fils et lui rendit l’administration de ses biens.

S’avisant que les animaux de la ferme étaient mieux traités que les hommes et que l’on n’hésitait pas à dépenser pour eux tandis que les mendiants étaient renvoyés, Jean pensa que son temps serait mieux employé à soigner les pauvres qu’à engraisser les bêtes, sans pour autant savoir comment s’y prendre. Le mayoral étant revenu à ses anciens projets de mariage, Jean s’enrôla de nouveau dans les armées. En 1522, après avoir participé à la défense victorieuse de Vienne contre Soliman II, il quitta l'armée et, après avoir fait un pèlerinage à Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, retourna au Portugal où il apprit d’un vieil oncle maternel, dernier survivant de sa famille, la mort de ses parents. Il résolut d’aller en Afrique pour soulager les chrétiens que les musulmans retenaient en esclavage. A Gibraltar, il se fit serviteur bénévole du comte Sylva que Jean III venait d’exiler à Ceuta (Afrique). Il passa en Afrique où il soigna jusqu’à la mort le comte Sylva.

Jean se proposait de ramener à l’Eglise les chrétiens qui avaient apostasié, mais un franciscain de Ceuta lui ordonna de retourner en Espagne où Dieu lui communiquerait ses volontés. Jean se fit alors marchand d’images pieuses. Dans une de ses tournées, il rencontra un petit garçon misérable qu’il chargea sur ses épaules ; au repos, le petit garçon se transforma en Enfant Jésus qui lui tendit une grenade entr’ouverte d’où sortait une croix, et lui dit : « Jean de Dieu, Grenade sera ta croix ! »

Jean s’en fut donc à Grenade où, le 20 janvier 1537, il entendit prêcher Jean d’Avila ; il s'imposa une telle pénitence publique qu'on l'enferma avec les fous de l'hôpital royal. Libéré sur les instances de Jean d’Avila, il resta comme infirmier, puis fit un pèlerinage à Notre-Dame de Guadalupe d’Estramadure. Tandis qu’il priait devant une image de la Vierge, Marie daigna se pencher vers lui pour déposer sur ses bras l’Enfant Jésus avec des langes et des vêtements pour le couvrir. Il alla en Andalousie, chercher les conseils de saint Jean d'Avila qui le conforta dans l’idée de se consacrer au service des miséreux et lui donna une règle de conduite.

De retour à Grenade, il se fit marchand de bois pour entretenir une maison qu’il avait louée pour la transformer en hôpital (1538). Les dons lui vinrent et aussi les disciples, avec lesquels il fonda une congrégation d’hospitaliers que Pie V mettra sous la règle de saint Augustin (1572). Jean de Dieu mourut à Grenade, le 8 mars 1550 ; il fut béatifié par Urbain VIII, en 1630, et canonisé par Alexandre VIII, en 1690 ; il a été proclamé patron des hôpitaux par Léon XIII, à quoi Pie XI ajouta les infirmiers et les malades, le 28 août 1930.



Saint Jean de Dieu

Jean de Dieu, de son vrai nom Joao Ciudad, est né en 1495 à Montémor o Novo au Portugal. A l’âge de huit ans, il quitte brusquement sa famille pour suivre un mystérieux gyrovague et commence une vie errante. Les raisons de ce départ restent un mystère. Il arrive assez rapidement en Espagne, à Oropesa (Tolède) où il est accueilli dans la famille de Francisco Cid, dénommé « el Mayoral ». La famille du Mayoral fait de l’élevage, et jusqu’à l’âge de 20 ans Jean se consacre au métier de berger. Il est apprécié de tous.

A la recherche d'aventures, il décide ensuite de s’enrôler dans les troupes que lève Charles Quint pour combattre François 1er. Après cette expérience militaire, il redevient berger mais très vite, nous le retrouvons aux portes de Vienne en Autriche avec l’armée impériale qui entend stopper l’invasion des turcs de Soliman le Magnifique. Il ira même jusqu’aux Pays Bas avec sa compagnie.

Quittant définitivement l’armée, il se met au service d’une noble famille espagnole condamnée à l’exil à Ceuta, sur la côte marocaine. De retour en Espagne après un passage sur sa terre natale, il erre sur les routes d’Andalousie, s’installe à Grenade et se fait marchand ambulant de livres de piété et de chevalerie.

Un jour de 1539, il écoute une prédication du célèbre Jean d’Avila qu’on surnomme l’apôtre de l’Andalousie. Et c’est la conversion. Bouleversé par ce qu'il vient d'entendre, il parcourt les rues de la ville en criant « Miséricorde ! Miséricorde ! », il arrache ses vêtements, se roule dans la boue. Les enfants le poursuivent en criant « el loco ! el loco ! », « le fou ! le fou ! ». Il est alors enfermé à l’hôpital Royal de Grenade. Il connaît le sort des malades mentaux de l’époque : jeûne, coups fouets, jets d’eau glacée… pour chasser le mal. C’est à ce moment que naît sa vocation. Il décide de passer le reste de sa vie à secourir ceux qu’il a côtoyés à l’hôpital Royal : paralytiques, vagabonds, prostituées, et surtout malades mentaux.

Il fonde une première « maison de Dieu » qui s’avère très vite trop petite, il en fonde donc une deuxième plus grande. Pour subvenir aux besoins de sa « maison de Dieu », il quête chaque jour en criant : « Frères, faites-vous du bien à vous-mêmes en donnant aux pauvres ! » Très vite, les habitants de Grenade le surnomment Jean de Dieu. Cinq compagnons, gagnés par son exemple, le rejoignent.

Il meurt le 8 mars 1550, laissant derrière lui une renommée de sainteté qui traverse les frontières. Ses compagnons vont très vite se réunir pour fonder l’Ordre Hospitalier des frères de Saint Jean de Dieu, grâce au pape saint Pie V qui, le 1er janvier 1572, approuve la congrégation et lui donne la règle de saint Augustin, et au pape Sixte V qui, le 1er octobre 1586, l’élève au rang d’Ordre religieux.

Six lettres manuscrites de saint Jean de Dieu ont été conservées précieusement. Parmi les nombreuses citations, on peut y lire notamment « Dieu avant tout et par-dessus tout ce qui est au monde ! », « Je suis endetté et captif pour Jésus-Christ seul ! », ou encore, « Mettez votre confiance en Jésus-Christ seul ! »

Jean de Dieu est canonisé en 1690, déclaré patron des malades et des hôpitaux en 1886 et protecteur des infirmiers et infirmières en 1930.

Aujourd’hui, l’Ordre Hospitalier est présent sur les cinq continents, les frères y ont fondés des hôpitaux, des maisons de santé, des centres de réhabilitation, des accueils de nuit, des écoles de formation…

SOURCE : http://www.saintjeandedieu.com/ewb_pages/b/biographie.php


St Jean de Dieu, confesseur

Mort le 8 mars 1550. Canonisé en 1690. Fête en 1714.

Leçons des Matines avant 1960

Quatrième leçon. Jean de Dieu naquit de parents catholiques et pieux, dans la ville de Monte-Mayor, au royaume de Portugal. Au moment de sa naissance une clarté extraordinaire parut sur sa maison, et une cloche sonna d’elle-même ; ces prodiges firent clairement présager que le Seigneur avait choisi cet enfant pour de glorieuses destinées. Dans sa jeunesse il fut retiré, par la puissance de la grâce divine, d’une vie trop relâchée et il commença à donner l’exemple d’une grande sainteté. Un jour, entendant la parole de Dieu, il se sentit tellement excité au bien, que dès lors il sembla avoir atteint une perfection consommée, quoiqu’il ne fût encore qu’au début d’une vie très sainte. Après avoir donné tout ce qu’il avait aux pauvres prisonniers, il devint pour tout le peuple un spectacle de pénitence, et de mépris de soi-même, ce qui lui attira les plus mauvais traitements de la part de beaucoup de personnes qui le regardaient comme un fou, et on alla jusqu’à l’enfermer dans une maison de santé. Mais Jean, enflammé de plus en plus d’une charité céleste, parvint à faire construire dans la ville de Grenade, avec les aumônes des personnes pieuses, deux vastes hôpitaux, et jeta les fondements d’un nouvel Ordre, donnant à l’Église l’institut des Frères hospitaliers, qui servent les malades au grand profit des âmes et des corps, et qui se sont répandus dans le monde entier.

Cinquième leçon. Il ne négligeait rien pour procurer le salut de l’âme et du corps aux pauvres malades, que souvent il portait chez lui sur ses épaules. Sa chanté ne se renfermait pas dans les limites d’un hôpital : il procurait secrètement des aliments à de pauvres veuves, à des jeunes filles dont la vertu était en danger, et mettait un soin infatigable à délivrer du vice ceux qui en étaient souillés. Un grand incendie s’étant déclaré dans l’hôpital de Grenade, Jean se jeta intrépidement au milieu du feu, courant ça et là dans l’enceinte embrasée jusqu’à ce qu’il eût transporté sur ses épaules tous les malades, et jeté les lits par les fenêtres pour les préserver du feu. Il resta ainsi pendant une demi-heure au milieu des flammes qui s’étendaient avec une rapidité extraordinaire ; il en sortit sain et sauf par le secours divin, à l’admiration de tous les habitants de Grenade ; montrant par cet exemple de charité que le feu qui le brûlait au dehors était moins ardent que celui qui l’embrasait intérieurement.

Sixième leçon. Jean de Dieu pratiqua, dans un degré éminent de perfection, des mortifications de tous genres, la plus humble obéissance, une extrême pauvreté, le zèle de la prière, la contemplation des choses divines ainsi que la dévotion à la sainte Vierge ; il fut aussi favorisé du don des larmes. Enfin, atteint d’une grave maladie, il reçut, selon l’usage, tous les sacrements de l’Église dans tes plus saintes dispositions, puis, malgré sa faiblesse, il se leva de son lit, couvert de ses vêtements, se jeta à genoux, et, pressant sur son cœur l’image de Jésus-Christ crucifié, il mourut ainsi dans le baiser du Seigneur, le huit des ides de mars, l’an mil cinq cent cinquante. Même après son dernier soupir, ses mains retinrent encore le crucifix, et son corps resta dans la même position pendant environ six heures, répandant une odeur merveilleusement suave jusqu’à ce qu’on l’eût enlevé de ce lieu. La ville entière fut témoin de ces prodiges. Illustre par de nombreux miracles, pendant sa vie et après sa mort, Jean de Dieu a été mis au nombre des Saints par le souverain Pontife Alexandre VIII. Léon XIII, agissant selon le désir des saints Évêques de l’Univers catholique et après avoir consulté la Congrégation des Rites, l’a déclaré le céleste Patron de tous les hospitaliers et des malades du monde entier, et il a ordonné qu’on invoquât son nom dans les Litanies des agonisants.


Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

Le même esprit qui avait inspire Jean de Matha se reposa sur Jean de Dieu, et le porta à se faire le serviteur de ses frères les plus délaissés. Tous deux, dans ce saint temps, se montrent à nous comme les apôtres de la charité fraternelle. Ils nous enseignent, par leurs exemples, que c’est en vain que nous nous flatterions d’aimer Dieu, si la miséricorde envers le prochain ne règne pas dans notre cœur, selon l’oracle du disciple bien-aimé qui nous dit : « Celui qui aura reçu en partage les biens de ce monde, et qui, voyant son frère dans la nécessité, tiendra pour lui ses entrailles fermées, comment la charité de Dieu demeurerait-elle en lui [1] ? » Mais, s’il n’est point d’amour de Dieu sans l’amour du prochain, l’amour des hommes, quand il ne se rattache pas à l’amour du Créateur et du Rédempteur, n’est aussi lui-même qu’une déception. La philanthropie, au nom de laquelle un homme prétend s’isoler du Père commun, et ne secourir son semblable qu’au nom de l’humanité, cette prétendue vertu n’est qu’une illusion de l’orgueil, incapable de créer un lien entre les hommes, stérile dans ses résultats. Il n’est qu’un seul lien qui unisse les hommes : c’est Dieu, Dieu qui les a tous produits, et qui veut les réunir à lui. Servir l’humanité pour l’humanité même, c’est en faire un Dieu ; et les résultats ont montré si les ennemis de la charité ont su mieux adoucir les misères auxquelles l’homme est sujet en cette vie, que les humbles disciples de Jésus-Christ qui puisent en lui les motifs et le courage de se vouer à l’assistance de leurs frères. Le héros que nous honorons aujourd’hui fut appelé Jean de Dieu, parce que le saint nom de Dieu était toujours dans sa bouche. Ses œuvres sublimes n’eurent pas d’autre mobile que celui de plaire à Dieu, en appliquant à ses frères les effets de cette tendresse que Dieu lui avait inspirée pour eux. Imitons cet exemple ; et le Christ nous assure qu’il réputera fait à lui-même tout ce que nous aurons fait en faveur du dernier de nos semblables.

Le patronage des hôpitaux a été dévolu par l’Église à Jean de Dieu, de concert avec Camille de Lellis que nous retrouverons au Temps après la Pentecôte.

Qu’elle est belle, ô Jean de Dieu ! Votre vie consacrée au soulagement de vos frères ! Qu’elle est grande en vous, la puissance de la charité ! Sorti, comme Vincent de Paul, de la condition la plus obscure, ayant comme lui passé vos premières années dans la garde des troupeaux, la charité qui consume votre cœur arrive à vous faire produire des œuvres qui dépassent de beaucoup l’influence et les moyens des puissants selon le monde. Votre mémoire est chère à l’Église ; elle doit l’être à l’humanité tout entière, puisque vous l’avez servie au nom de Dieu, avec un dévouement personnel dont n’approchèrent jamais ces économistes qui savent disserter, sans doute, mais pour qui le pauvre ne saurait être une chose sacrée, tant qu’ils ne veulent pas voir en lui Dieu lui-même. Homme de charité, ouvrez les yeux de ces aveugles, et daignez guérir la société des maux qu’ils lui ont faits. Longtemps on a conspiré pour effacer du pauvre la ressemblance du Christ ; mais c’est le Christ lui-même qui l’a établie et déclarée, cette ressemblance ; il faut que le siècle la reconnaisse, ou il périra sous la vengeance du pauvre qu’il a dégradé. Votre zèle, ô Jean de Dieu, s’exerça, avec une particulière prédilection, sur les infirmes ; protégez-les contre les odieux attentats d’une laïcisation qui poursuit leurs âmes jusque dans les asiles que leur avait préparés la charité chrétienne. Prenez pitié des nations modernes qui, sous prétexte d’arriver à ce qu’elles appelaient la sécularisation, ont chassé Dieu de leurs mœurs et de leurs institutions : la société, elle aussi, est malade, et ne sent pas encore assez distinctement son mal ; assistez-la, éclairez-la, et obtenez pour elle la santé et la vie. Mais comme la société se compose des individus, et qu’elle ne reviendra à Dieu que par le retour personnel des membres qui la composent, réchauffez la sainte charité dans le cœur des chrétiens : afin que, dans ces jours où nous voulons obtenir miséricorde, nous nous efforcions d’être miséricordieux, comme vous l’avez été, à l’exemple de celui qui, étant notre Dieu offensé, s’est donné lui-même pour nous, en qui il a daigné voir ses frères. Protégez aussi du haut du ciel le précieux institut que vous avez fondé, et auquel vous avez donné votre esprit, afin qu’il s’accroisse et puisse répandre en tous lieux la bonne odeur de cette charité de laquelle il emprunte son beau nom.

[1] I Johan. III, 17.

Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Ce fut Clément XI qui introduisit dans le Missel, sous le rite semi-double, la fête de cet insigne patron des hôpitaux catholiques (+ 1550) et de tous ceux qui, dans les douleurs de la maladie et de l’agonie, accomplissent ici-bas les dernières phases de leur purification avant de comparaître au tribunal divin. Plus tard, Innocent XIII accorda à la fête de saint Jean de Dieu le rite double, et Léon XIII prescrivit d’insérer son nom dans les litanies des agonisants, avec celui de saint Camille de Lellis.

La messe est celle du Commun des Confesseurs non Pontifes, sauf la première collecte et l’Évangile, qui sont propres. La collecte fait allusion non seulement à la fondation de .l’Ordre des Hospitaliers, mais aussi au miracle de saint Jean de Dieu, alors que, l’hôpital de Grenade étant la proie des flammes, il circula près d’une demi-heure, intrépide, dans cette fournaise, transportant en lieu sûr les malades et jetant les lits par les fenêtres pour les soustraire au feu.

Le culte particulier de ce Saint est assuré à Rome chrétienne par les religieux de son Ordre, qui desservent l’antique église de Saint-Jean de Insula, dans l’île Tibérine. Il est en outre dans les traditions de la cour papale que la pharmacie des Palais apostoliques soit administrée par un religieux de l’Ordre de Saint-Jean de Dieu, qui remplit aussi les fonctions d’infirmier du Souverain Pontife.

La lecture de l’Évangile est celle du XVIIe dimanche après la Pentecôte (Matth., XXII, 34-36) où Jésus promulgue le grand précepte de la perfection chrétienne, qui consiste essentiellement dans l’amour. A la vérité, étant donné le caractère historique de l’inspiration liturgique moderne, on se serait plutôt attendu à trouver ici le récit du bon Samaritain, prototype de l’infirmier chrétien. Néanmoins la péricope choisie s’adapte bien, elle aussi, à notre Saint, puisque en lui l’amour du prochain, et plus encore l’amour de Dieu, s’élevèrent à des hauteurs si vertigineuses qu’ils atteignirent la sublime folie de la Croix, jusqu’à le pousser à se faire passer pour fou, à subir des coups et à se laisser enfermer dans un hôpital d’aliénés. Ce fut le bienheureux Maître Jean d’Avila qui pénétra le mystère et rappela le Saint de ce singulier genre de vie à une règle plus discrète, telle que Dieu l’exigeait de lui, pour qu’il arrivât à constituer une nouvelle et stable congrégation religieuse.

A notre lit de mort, dans les litanies des agonisants, le prêtre et les assistants invoqueront pour nous l’intercession de saint Jean de Dieu. Très probablement, nous ne serons plus alors en mesure de le faire, et peut-être pas même de l’entendre ; il est donc opportun de l’implorer dès maintenant, en recommandant au Saint le moment suprême d’où dépend le sort de notre éternité.


Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

« Dieu est amour. Celui qui demeure dans l’amour, demeure en Dieu et Dieu en lui. » (Devise de son Ordre).

Saint Jean : Jour de mort : 8 mars 1550. — Tombeau : à Grenade. Image : On le représente avec une couronne d’épines et avec une corne autour du cou à laquelle sont suspendus deux vases (pour recueillir les aumônes). Vie : Saint Jean de Dieu naquit en 1493. A l’âge de huit ans, il s’enfuit de la maison paternelle pour une raison inconnue. Dans sa jeunesse, il fut successivement bouvier et libraire et mena une vie chrétienne assez tiède. Un sermon du bienheureux Jean d’Avila le convertit soudain. Sa conversion fut si complète qu’on le prit pour un fou. Il sauva, au péril de sa vie, dans un incendie, les malades d’un hôpital (Oraison). Cette action manifesta sa vertu et lui révéla à lui-même la grande tâche de sa vie. Il fonda l’Ordre des Frères de la miséricorde (approuvé en 1572 par Saint Pie V). Le but de cet Ordre est la charité miséricordieuse pour les malades. Les membres de cet Ordre s’engagent, par un quatrième vœu, à se consacrer toute leur vie au soin des malades. Le saint est le patron des hôpitaux et des mourants. Son nom est invoqué dans les litanies dés agonisants.

Pratique : Notre temps ne sait plus, comme l’ancienne Église, unir harmonieusement, dans une vie intime et organique, ces deux choses : la liturgie et le soin des malades. Notre saint peut nous en indiquer les moyens. — Nous prenons la messe du Carême et faisons mémoire du saint.

Quelques traits de sa vie. — Dans le grand hôpital de Grenade fondé par les souverains Ferdinand et Isabelle, un incendie avait éclaté. Parti de la cuisine, le feu avait gagné les autres pièces. Il menaçait d’envahir aussi les grandes salles dans lesquelles étaient couchés des centaines de malades. On sonna le tocsin. De toutes parts, le peuple se précipita : Jean était en tête. Les pompiers et les charpentiers étaient impuissants. Personne n’osait se lancer dans la maison en feu. On entendait les gémissements désespérés des pauvres malades. Ceux qui pouvaient se lever, se tenaient auprès des fenêtres, se tordant les mains. C’était à devenir fou. Jean, alors, ne peut plus se contenir. Sans tenir compte de la fumée et des flammes, il se précipite dans ces salles qu’il connaît bien, arrache portes et fenêtres, donne quelques indications, quelques ordres brefs à ceux qui peuvent se sauver eux-mêmes, puis guidant, poussant et traînant les autres, en portant souvent deux à la fois, dans ses bras, sur ses épaules, montant et descendant les escaliers, il met tous les malades dehors, à l’abri. Quand tous sont sauvés, il s’occupe du mobilier ; il jette, par la fenêtre, les couvertures et les lits, les habits et les chaises, les autres meubles et arrache ainsi au feu le bien sacré des pauvres. Puis, il prend une hache et monte sur le toit. Tout là-haut, on le voit frapper avec acharnement. Soudain, une gerbe de flammes jaillit à côté de lui. Il s’enfuit et cherche à se sauver dans l’édifice adjacent. Mais là aussi une vague de flammes jaillit en face de lui. Il est entre deux feux. Quelques instants et il disparaît dans le brasier et la fumée. L’incendie se limite à son foyer. On déplore à haute voix la mort de l’homme courageux quand, soudain, il se précipite hors de la maison, noir de fumée, mais sain et sauf, n’ayant que les sourcils brûlés. La foule l’entoure en poussant des cris d’allégresse et félicite le sauveur des malades et de l’hôpital. Mais Jean chercha modestement à s’arracher aux remerciements et à la reconnaissance.


St. John of God

Born at Montemoro Novo, Portugal, 8 March, 1495, of devout Christian parents; died at Granada, 8 March, 1550. The wonders attending the saints birth heralded a life many-sided in its interests, but dominated throughout by implicit fidelity to the grace of God. A Spanish priest whom he followed to Oropeza, Spain, in his ninth year left him in charge of the chief shepherd of the place, to whom he gradually endeared himself through his punctuality and fidelity to duty, as well as his earnest piety. When he had reached manhood, to escape his mastery well-meant, but persistent, offer of his daughter's hand in marriage, John took service for a time in the army of Charles V, and on the renewal of the proposal he enlisted in a regiment on its way toAustria to do battle with the Turks. Succeeding years found him first at his birthplace, saddened by the news of his mother's premature death, which had followed close upon his mysterious disappearance; then a shepherd at Seville and still later at Gibraltar, on the way to Africa, to ransom with his liberty Christians heldcaptive by the Moors. He accompanied to Africa a Portuguese family just expelled from the country, to whomcharity impelled him to offer his services. On the advice of his confessor he soon returned to Gilbratar, where,brief as had been the time since the invention of the printing-press, he inaugurated the Apostolate of the printed page, by making the circuit of the towns and villages about Gilbratar, selling religious books and pictures, with practically no margin of profit, in order to place them within the reach of all.


It was during this period of his life that he is said to have been granted the vision of the Infant Jesus, Who bestowed on him the name by which he was later known, John of God, also bidding him to go to Granada. There he was so deeply impressed by the preaching of Blessed John of Avila that he distributed his worldlygoods and went through the streets of the city, beating his breast and calling on God for mercy. For some time his sanity was doubted by the people and he was dealt with as a madman, until the zealous preacher obligedhim to desist from his lamentations and take some other method of atoning for his past life. He then made apilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, where the nature of his vocation was revealed to him by the Blessed Virgin. Returning to Granada, he gave himself up to the service of the sick and poor, renting a house in which to care for them and after furnishing it with what was necessary, he searched the city for those afflicted with all manner of disease, bearing on his shoulders any who were unable to walk.

For some time he was alone in his charitable work soliciting by night the needful supplies, and by day attending scrupulously to the needs of his patients and the rare of the hospital; but he soon received the co-operation of charitable priests and physicians. Many beautiful stories are related of the heavenly guests who visited him during the early days of herculean tasks, which were lightened at times by St.Raphael in person. To put a stop to the saint's habit of exchanging his cloak with any beggar he chanced to meet, Don SebastianRamirez, Bishop of Tuy, had made for him a habit, which was later adopted in all its essentials as the religiousgarb of his followers, and he imposed on him for all time the name given him by the Infant Jesus, John of God. The saint's first two companions, Antonio Martin and Pedro Velasco, once bitter enemies who had scandalisedall Granada with their quarrels and dissipations, were converted through his prayers and formed the nucleus of a flourishing congregation. The former advanced so far on the way of perfection that the saint on his death-bed commended him to his followers as his successor in the government of the order. The latter, Peter the Sinner, as he called himself, became a model of humility and charity.

Among the many miracles which are related of the saint the most famous is the one commemorated in theOffice of his feast, his rescue of all the inmates during a fire in the Grand Hospital at Granada, he himself passing through the flames unscathed. His boundless charity extended to widows and orphans, those out of employment, poor students, and fallen women. After thirteen years of severe mortification, unceasing prayer, and devotion to his patients, he died amid the lamentations of all the inhabitants of Granada. His last illness had resulted from an heroic but futile effort to save a young man from drowning. The magistrates and nobility of the city crowded about his death-bed to express their gratitude for his services to the poor, and he wasburied with the pomp usually reserved for princes. He was beatified by Urban VIII, 21 September, 1638, andcanonized by Alexander VIII, 16 October, 1690. Pope Leo XIII made St. John of God patron of hospitals and the dying. (See also BROTHERS HOSPITALLERS OF ST. JOHN OF GOD.)

Sources

Acta SS. 1 March, I, 813: De CASTRO, Miraculosa vida y santas obras del. b. Juan Dios (Granada, 1588); GIRARD DE VILLE-THIERY, vie de s. Jean de Dieu (Paris, 1691); BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 8 March; BEISSEL in Kircheslex., s.v. Johannes von Gott.

Rudge, F.M. "St. John of God." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 8 Mar. 2016<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08472c.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Joseph P. Thomas. In memory of Fr. George Kanatt M.C.B.S.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.


ST. JOHN OF GOD. (1495 - 1550)

NOTHING in John's early life foreshadowed his future sanctity. He ran away as a boy from his home in Portugal, tended sheep and cattle in Spain, and served as a soldier against the French, and afterwards against the Turks. When about forty years of age, feeling remorse for his wild life, he resolved to devote himself to the ransom of the Christian slaves in Africa, and went thither with the family of an exiled noble, which he maintained by his labor. On his return to Spain he sought to do good by selling holy pictures and books at low prices. At. length the hour of grace struck. At Granada a sermon by the celebrated John of Avila shook his soul to its depths, and his expressions of self-abhorrence were so extraordinary that he was taken to the asylum as one mad. There he employed himself in ministering to the sick. On leaving he began to collect homeless poor, and to support them by his work and by begging. One night St. John found in the streets a poor man who seemed near death, and, as was his wont, he carried him to the hospital, laid him on a bed, and went to fetch water to wash his feet. When he had washed them, he knelt to kiss them, and started with awe: the feet were pierced, and the print of the nails bright with an unearthly radiance. He raised his eyes to look, and heard the words, "John, to Me thou doest all that thou doest to the poor My name: I reach forth My hand for the alms thou givest; Me dost thou clothe, Mine are the feet thou dost wash." And then the gracious vision disappeared, leaving St. John filled at once with confusion and consolation. The bishop became the Saint's patron, and gave him the name of John of God. When his hospital was on fire, John was seen rushing about uninjured amidst the flames until he had rescued all his poor. After ten years spent in the service of the suffering, the Saint's life was fitly closed. He plunged into the river Xenil to save a drowning boy, and died A.D. 1550 of an illness brought on by the attempt, at the age of fifty-five.

Reflection.--God often rewards men for works that are pleasing in His sight by giving them grace and opportunity to do other works higher still. St. John of God used to attribute his conversion, and the graces which enabled him to do such great works, to his self-denying charity in Africa.

St. John of God


St. John of God (1495-1550) having given up active Christian belief while a soldier, was 40 before the depth of his sinfulness began to dawn on him. He decided to give the rest of his life to God’s service, and headed at once for Africa, where he hoped to free captive Christians and, possibly, be martyred.

He was soon advised that his desire for martyrdom was not spiritually well based, and returned to Spain and the relatively prosaic activity of a religious goods store. Yet he was still not settled. Moved initially by a sermon of Blessed John of Avila, he one day engaged in a public beating of himself, begging mercy and wildly repenting for his past life.

 Committed to a mental hospital for these actions, John was visited by Blessed John, who advised him to be more actively involved in tending to the needs of others rather than in enduring personal hardships. John gained peace of heart, and shortly after left the hospital to begin work among the poor.

He established a house where he wisely tended to the needs of the sick poor, at first doing his own begging. But excited by the saint’s great work and inspired by his devotion, many people began to back him up with money and provisions. Among them were the archbishop and marquis of Tarifa.

Behind John’s outward acts of total concern and love for Christ’s sick poor was a deep interior prayer life which was reflected in his spirit of humility. These qualities attracted helpers who, 20 years after John’s death, formed the Brothers Hospitallers, now a worldwide religious order.

 One mark of honor to his labors is that this order has been officially entrusted with the medical care of the Popes.

John became ill after 10 years of service but tried to disguise his ill health. He began to put the hospital’s administrative work into order and appointed a leader for his helpers. 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, the sick, nurses, firefighters, alcoholics, and booksellers. St. John’s feast day is commemorated on March 8.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-john-of-god/



John of God, Religious (RM)

Born at Montemoro Nuovo (diocese of Evora), Portugal, March 8, 1495; died in Granada, Spain, on March 8, 1550; canonized by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690; Leo XIII in 1886 declared him to be "patron of all hospitals and sick," along with Camillus de Lellis.


The several versions of Saint John's story are hopelessly confused with regard to a sequence of events in his early life.

Juan Ciudad was born of pious, peasant stock. His parents died when he was young (either before or after his misadventures). He was "seduced from his home by a priest, who abandoned him on the road" (Tabor with no further explanation). For a while he was a shepherd. He also served the bailiff of the count of Oroprusa in Castile for some time. After travelling for a while, he entered military service in 1522 where, his biographers report, he was guilty of many grievous sexual excesses and other sins. He served in the wars between the French and the Spaniards, and in Hungary against the Turks. After the count's company broke up, John worked as a shepherd near Seville. He even worked as a superintendent of slaves in Morocco at some point.

When he was about 40, he was profoundly moved with remorse and decided to dedicate himself to God's service in some special way. He initially thought of going to Morocco in Africa to minister to and rescue Christian slaves. Instead he accompanied a Portuguese family from Gibraltar to Ceuta, Barbary. There he served a Portuguese nobleman, who had lost all his possessions. John maintained the whole family by his labor. Then he returned to Gibraltar, where he peddled religious pictures and books. He business prospered, and in 1538, in obedience to a vision, he opened a shop in Granada.
After hearing Blessed John of Ávila preach on Saint Sebastian's Day (January 20), he was so touched that he cried aloud and beat his breast, begging for mercy. He ran about the streets behaving like a lunatic, and the townspeople threw sticks and stones at him. He returned to his shop, gave away his stock, and began wandering the streets in distraction.

Some people took him to Blessed John of Ávila, who advised him and offered his support. John was calm for a while but fell into wild behavior again and was taken to an insane asylum, where the customary brutal treatments were applied to bring him to sanity. John of Ávila heard of his fate and visited him, telling him that he had practiced his penance long enough and that he should address himself to doing something more useful for himself and his neighbor. John was calmed by this, remained in the hospital, and attended the sick until 1539. While there he determined to spend the rest of his life working for the poor.

On his release from the hospital, he began selling wood to earn money to feed the poor. With the help of the archbishop of Granada, hired a house as a refuge to care for the sick poor-- including prostitutes and vagabonds, which brought him criticism. Although he was constantly short of money, his work prospered because he served them with great zeal and discrimination.

On one occasion his hospital caught fire and he carried out most of the patients on his own back, returning again and again through the flames to rescue them. He had a good business head and was so efficient in his administration that soon he found himself the recipient of aid from the whole city of Granada and beyond. He found so many willing to join in helping him, that he was forced to think of starting a religious order. This was the beginning of the Borthers of Saint John of God, a group which was to have enormous influence in the Church. He had not intended to found a religious order, and so the rules were not drawn up until six years after his death.

He gave relief also to the poor in their homes and found work for the unemployed. In his eagerness that no case of want should go unrelieved, he instituted an inquiry into the problems and needs of the poor of the whole area. In addition to his relief work, bearing in his hand a crucifix, he sought out the fallen women of the city to reclaim them. The archbishop once sent for him and complained that he harbored idle beggars and bad women, to which he replied that the only bad person in the hospital was himself.

John of God practiced great penance, enjoyed visions and even ecstasies, but manifested great humility through a life in which he wore himself out, trying to aid every distressed person he met or heard of, in addition to preaching with cross in hand to crowds throughout the city streets. He fell ill after trying to save his wood and to rescue a drowning child from the River Ximel during a flood. He hid his illness and continued in his duties, but the news finally got out.

He named Antony Martin superior over his helpers. John remained so long in front of the Blessed Sacrament that the Lady Anne Ossorio took him home with her by force. She surrounded him with every comfort, and read to him the story of the Passion of Jesus. He worried that while Jesus drank gall, he, a miserable sinner, was being fed good food.

Outside, the whole city gathered at the door--nobles and beggars alike--craving his blessing. The magistrates begged him to bless his fellow townsfolk, but he said that he was a sinner. The archbishop finally convinced him to confer his blessing. John died on his knees before the altar of his hospital chapel, and was buried by the archbishop (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Gill, Tabor, White).

In art, Saint John is portrayed as a Capuchin monk with a long beard, two bowls hung around his neck on a cord, and a basket. At times he may be shown (1) as a crown of thorns is brought to him by the Virgin, (2) with an alms box hung up near him, (3) with a crucifix, rosary, and collection box, (4) holding a pomegranate (pome de Granada) with a cross on it, (5) washing Jesus's feet as a pilgrim, (6) carrying sick persons, or (7) with a beggar kneeling at his feet (Roeder, Tabor). He is venerated in Granada, Spain (Roeder, White). John of God is the patron of the sick, of hospitals, and of nurses, printers, and booksellers (White).


SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0308.shtml

March 8

St. John of God, Confessor, Founder of the Order of Charity

From his life, written by Francis de Castro, twenty-five years after his death; abridged by Baillet, p. 92. and F. Helyot, Hist. des Ordres Relig. t. 4. p. 131.

A.D. 1550

ST. JOHN, surnamed of God, was born in Portugal, in 1495. His parents were of the lowest rank in the country, but devout and charitable. John spent a considerable part of his youth in service, under the mayoral or chief shepherd of the count of Oropeusa in Castile, and in great innocence and virtue. In 1522 he listed himself in a company of foot raised by the count, and served in the wars between the French and Spaniards; as he did afterwards in Hungary against the Turks whilst the emperor Charles V. was king of Spain. By the licentiousness of his companions he, by degrees, lost his fear of offending God, and laid aside the greater part of his practices of devotion. The troop which he belonged to being disbanded, he went into Andalusia in 1536, where he entered the service of a rich lady near Seville, in quality of shepherd. Being now about forty years of age, stung with remorse for his past misconduct, he began to entertain very serious thoughts of a change of life, and doing penance for his sins. He accordingly employed the greater part of his time, both by day and night, in the exercises of prayer and mortification; bewailing almost continually his ingratitude towards God, and deliberating how he could dedicate himself in the most perfect manner to his service. His compassion for the distressed moved him to take a resolution of leaving his place, and passing into Africa, that he might comfort and succour the poor slaves there, not without hopes of meeting with the crown of martyrdom. At Gibralter he met with a Portuguese gentleman condemned to banishment, and whose estate had also been confiscated by King John III. He was then in the hands of the king’s officers, together with his wife and children, and on his way to Ceuta in Barbary, the place of his exile. John, out of charity and compassion, served him without any wages. At Ceuta, the gentleman falling sick with grief and the change of air, was soon reduced to such straits as to be obliged to dispose of the small remains of his shattered fortune for the family’s support. John, not content to sell what little stock he was master of to relieve them, went to day-labour at the public works, to earn all he could for their subsistence. The apostasy of one of his companions alarmed him; and his confessor telling him that his going in quest of martyrdom was an illusion, he determined to return, to Spain. Coming back to Gibralter, his piety suggested to him to turn pedler, and sell little pictures and books of devotion, which might furnish him with opportunities of exhorting his customers to virtue. His stock increasing considerably, he settled in Granada, where he opened a shop in 1538, being then forty-three years of age.

The great preacher and servant of God, John D’Avila, 1 surnamed the Apostle of Andalusia, preached that year at Granada, on St. Sebastian’s day, which is there kept as a great festival. John, having heard his sermon, was so affected with it, that, melting into tears, he filled the whole church with his cries and lamentations; detesting his past life, beating his breast, and calling aloud for mercy. Not content with this, he ran about the streets like a distracted person, tearing his hair, and behaving in such a manner that he was followed every where by a rabble with sticks and stones, and came home all besmeared with dirt and blood. He then gave away all he had in the world, and having thus reduced himself to absolute poverty, that he might die to himself and crucify all the sentiments of the old man, he began again to counterfeit the madman, running about the streets as before, till some had the charity to take him to the venerable John D’Avila, covered with dirt and blood. The holy man, full of the Spirit of God, soon discovered in John the motions of extraordinary graces, spoke to him in private, heard his general confession, and gave him proper advice, and promised his assistance ever after. John, out of a desire of the greatest humiliations, returned soon after to his apparent madness and extravagances. He was, thereupon, taken up and put into a madhouse, on supposition of his being disordered in his senses, where the severest methods were used to bring him to himself, all which he underwent in the spirit of penance, and by way of atonement for the sins of his past life. D’Avila, being informed of his conduct, came to visit him, and found him reduced almost to the grave by weakness, and his body covered with wounds and sores; but his soul was still vigorous, and thirsting with the greatest ardour after new sufferings and humiliations. D’Avila however told him, that having now been sufficiently exercised in that so singular a method of penance and humiliation, he advised him to employ himself for the time to come in something more conducive to his own and the public good. His exhortation had its desired effect; and he grew instantly calm and sedate, to the great astonishment of his keepers. He continued, however, some time longer in the hospital, serving the sick, but left it entirely on St. Ursula’s day, in 1539. This his extraordinary conduct is an object of our admiration, not of our imitation: in this saint it was the effect of the fervour of his conversion, his desire of humiliation, and a holy hatred of himself and his past criminal life. By it he learned in a short time perfectly to die to himself and the world; which prepared his soul for the graces which God afterwards bestowed on him. He then thought of executing his design of doing something for the relief of the poor; and, after a pilgrimage to our Lady’s in Guadaloupa, to recommend himself and his undertaking to her intercession, in a place celebrated for devotion to her, he began by selling wood in the market place, to feed some poor by means of his labour. Soon after he hired a house to harbour poor sick persons in, whom he served and provided for with an ardour, prudence, economy and vigilance that surprised the whole city. This was the foundation of the order of charity, in 1540, which, by the benediction of heaven, has since been spread all over Christendom. John was occupied all day in serving his patients: in the night he went out to carry in new objects of charity, rather than to seek out provisions for them; for people, of their own accord, brought him in all necessaries for his little hospital.

The archbishop of Granada, taking notice of so excellent an establishment, and admiring the incomparable order observed in it, both for the spiritual and temporal care of the poor, furnished considerable sums to increase it, and favoured it with his protection. This excited all persons to vie with each other in contributing to it. Indeed the charity, patience, and modesty of St. John, and his wonderful care and foresight, engaged every one to admire and favour the institute. The bishop of Tuy, president of the royal court of judicature in Granada, having invited the holy man to dinner, put several questions to him, to all which he answered in such a manner, as gave the bishop the highest esteem of his person. It was this prelate that gave him the name of John of God, and prescribed him a kind of habit, though St. John never thought of founding a religious order: for the rules which bear his name were only drawn up in 1556, six years after his death; and religious vows were not introduced among his brethren before the year 1570.

To make trial of the saint’s disinterestedness, the marquess of Tarisa came to him in disguise to beg an alms, on pretence of a necessary law-suit, and he received from his hands twenty-five ducats, which was all he had. The marquess was so much edified by his charity, that, besides returning the sum, he bestowed on him one hundred and fifty crowns of gold, and sent to his hospital every day, during his stay at Granada, one hundred and fifty loaves, four sheep and six pullets. But the holy man gave a still more illustrious proof of his charity when the hospital was on fire, for he carried out most of the sick on his own back: and though he passed and repassed through the flames, and staid in the midst of them a considerable time, he received no hurt. But his charity was not confined to his own hospital: he looked upon it as his own misfortune if the necessities of any distressed person in the whole country had remained unrelieved. He therefore made strict inquiry into the wants of the poor over the whole province, relieved many in their own houses, employed in a proper manner those who were able to work, and with wonderful sagacity laid himself out every way to comfort and assist all the afflicted members of Christ. He was particularly active and vigilant in settling and providing for young maidens in distress, to prevent the danger to which they are often exposed, of taking bad courses. He also reclaimed many who were already engaged in vice: for which purpose he sought out public sinners, and holding a crucifix in his hand, with many tears exhorted them to repentance. Though his life seemed to be taken up in continual action, he accompanied it with perpetual prayer and incredible corporal austerities. And his tears of devotion, his frequent raptures, and his eminent spirit of contemplation, gave a lustre to his other virtues. But his sincere humility appeared most admirable in all his actions, even amidst the honours which he received at the court of Valladolid, whither business called him. The king and princes seemed to vie with each other who should show him the greatest courtesy, or put the largest alms in his hands; whose charitable contributions he employed with great prudence in Valladolid itself and the adjacent country. Only perfect virtue could stand the test of honours, amidst which he appeared the most humble. Humiliations seemed to be his delight: these he courted and sought, and always underwent them with great alacrity. One day, when a women called him hypocrite, and loaded him with invectives, he gave her privately a piece of money, and desired her to repeat all she had said in the market-place.

Worn out at last by ten years’ hard service in his hospital, he fell sick. The immediate occasion of his distemper seemed to be excess of fatigue in saving wood and other such things for the poor in a great flood, in which, seeing a person in danger of being drowned, he swam in his clothes to endeavour to rescue him, not without imminent hazard of his own life; but he could not see his Christian brother perish without endeavouring, at all hazards, to succour him. He at first concealed his sickness, that he might not be obliged to diminish his labours and extraordinary austerities; but, in the mean time, he carefully revised the inventories of all things belonging to his hospital and inspected all the accounts. He also reviewed all the excellent regulations which he had made for its administration, the distribution of time, and the exercises of piety to be observed in it. Upon a complaint that he harboured idle strollers and bad women, the archbishop sent for him, and laid open the charge against him. The man of God threw himself prostrate at his feet, and said: “The Son of God came for sinners and we are obliged to promote their conversion, to exhort them, and to sigh and pray for them. I am unfaithful to my vocation because I neglect this; and I confess that I know no other bad person in my hospital but myself; who, as I am obliged to own with extreme confusion, am a most base sinner, altogether unworthy to eat the bread of the poor.” This he spoke with so much feeling and humility that all present were much moved, and the archbishop dismissed him with respect, leaving all things to his discretion. His illness increasing, the news of it was spread abroad. The lady Anne Ossorio was no sooner informed of his condition, but she came in her coach to the hospital to see him. The servant of God lay in his habit in his little cell, covered with a piece of an old coat instead of a blanket, and having under his head, not indeed a stone, as was his custom, but a basket, in which he used to beg alms in the city for his hospital. The poor and sick stood weeping round him. The lady, moved with compassion, despatched secretly a message to the archbishop, who sent immediately an order to St. John to obey her as he would do himself, during his illness. By virtue of this authority she obliged him to leave his hospital. He named Anthony Martin superior in his place, and gave moving instructions to his brethren, recommending them, in particular, obedience and charity. In going out he visited the blessed sacrament, and poured forth his heart before it with extraordinary fervour; remaining there absorbed in his devotions so long, that the lady Anne Ossorio caused him to be taken up and carried into her coach, in which she conveyed him to her own house. She herself prepared with the help of her maids, and gave him with her own hands, his broths and other things, and often read to him the history of the passion of our divine Redeemer. He complained that whilst our Saviour, in his agony, drank gall, they gave him, a miserable sinner, broths.

The whole city was in tears; all the nobility visited him; the magistrates came to beg he would give his benediction to their city. He answered, that his sins rendered him the scandal and reproach of their country; but recommended to them his brethren the poor, and his religious that served them. At last, by order of the archbishop, he gave the city his dying benediction. His exhortations to all were most pathetic. His prayer consisted of most humble sentiments of compunction, and inflamed aspirations of divine love. The archbishop said mass in his chamber, heard his confession, gave him the viaticum and extreme unction, and promised to pay all his debts, and to provide for all his poor. The saint expired on his knees, before the altar, on the 8th of March, in 1550, being exactly fifty-five years old. He was buried by the archbishop at the head of all the clergy, both secular and regular, accompanied by all the court, nobles, and city, with the utmost pomp. He was honoured by many miracles, beatified by Urban VIII. in 1630, and canonized by Alexander VIII. in 1690. His relics were translated into the church of his brethren in 1664. His order of charity to serve the sick was approved of by Pope Pius V. The Spaniards have their own general; but the religious in France and Italy obey a general who resides at Rome. They follow the rule of St. Austin.

One sermon perfectly converted one who had been long enslaved to the world and his passions, and made him a saint. How comes it that so many sermons and pious books produce so little fruit in our souls? It is altogether owing to our sloth and wilful hardness of heart, that we receive God’s omnipotent word in vain, and to our most grievous condemnation. The heavenly seed can take no root in hearts which receive it with indifference and insensibility, or it is trodden upon and destroyed by the dissipation and tumult of our disorderly affections, or it is choked by the briers and thorns of earthly concerns. To profit by it, we must listen to it with awe and respect, in the silence of all creatures, in interior solitude and peace, and must carefully nourish it in our hearts. The holy law of God is comprised in the precept of divine love; a precept so sweet, a virtue so glorious and so happy, as to carry along with it its present incomparable reward. St. John, from the moment of his conversion, by the penitential austerities which he performed, was his own greatest persecutor; but it was chiefly by heroic works of charity that he endeavoured to offer to God the most acceptable sacrifice of compunction, gratitude, and love. What encouragement has Christ given us in every practice of this virtue, by declaring, that whatever we do to others he esteems as done to himself! To animate ourselves to fervour, we may often call to mind what St. John frequently repeated to his disciples, “Labour without intermission to do all the good works in your power, whilst time is allowed you.” His spirit of penance, love, and fervour he inflamed by meditating assiduously on the sufferings of Christ, of which he often used to say: “Lord, thy thorns are my roses, and thy sufferings my paradise.”

Note 1. The venerable John of Avila, or Avilla, who may be called the father of the most eminent saints that flourished in Spain in the sixteenth century, was a native of the diocess of Toledo. At fourteen years of age he was sent to Salamanca, and trained up to the law. From his infancy he applied himself with great earnestness to prayer, and all the exercises of piety and religion; and he was yet very young when he found his inclinations strongly bent towards an ecclesiastical state, in order to endeavour by his tears and labours to kindle the fire of divine love in the hearts of men. From the university his parents called him home, but were surprised and edified to see the ardour with which he pursued the most heroic practices of Christian perfection; which, as they both feared God, they were afraid in the least to check, or damp his fervour. His diet was sparing, and as coarse as he could choose without an appearance of singularity or affectation; he contrived to sleep on twigs, which he secretly laid on his bed, wore a hair shirt, and used severe disciplines. What was most admirable in his conduct was, the universal denial of his will, by which he laboured to die to himself, added to his perfect humility, patience, obedience, and meekness, by which he subjected his spirit to the holy law of Christ. All his spare time was devoted to prayer, and he approached very frequently the holy sacraments. In that of the Blessed Eucharist he began to find a wonderful relish and devotion, and he spent some hours in preparing himself to receive it with the utmost purity of heart and fervour of love he was able to bring to that divine banquet. In the commerce of the world he appeared so much out of his element, that he was sent to the university of Alcala, where he finished his studies in the same manner he had begun them, and bore the first prize in philosophy and his other classes. F. Dominic Soto, the learned Dominican professor, who was his master, conceived for him the warmest affection and the highest esteem, and often declared how great a man he doubted not this scholar would one day become. Peter Guerrera, who was afterwards archbishop of Toledo, was also from that time his great admirer and constant friend. Both his parents dying about that time, John entered into holy orders. On the same day on which he said his first mass, instead of giving an entertainment according to the custom, he provided a dinner for twelve poor persons, on whom he waited at table, and whom he clothed at his own expense, and with his own hands. When he returned into his own country, he sold his whole estate, for he was the only child and heir of his parents: the entire price he gave to the poor, reserving nothing for himself besides an old suit of mean apparel, desiring to imitate the apostles, whom Christ forbade to carry either purse or scrip. Taking St. Paul for his patron and model, he entered upon the ministry of preaching, for which sublime function his preparation consisted not merely in the study and exercise of oratory, and in a consummate knowledge of faith, and of the rules of Christian virtue, but much more in a perfect victory over himself and his passions, the entire disengagement of his heart and affections from the world and all earthly things, an eminent spirit of humility, tender charity, and inflamed zeal for the glory of God, and the sanctification of souls. He once said to a young clergyman, who consulted him by what method he could learn the art of preaching with fruit, that it was no other than that of the most ardent love of God. Of this he was himself a most illustrious example. Prayer and an indefatigable application to the duties of his ministry divided his whole time, and such was his thirst of the salvation of souls, that the greatest labours and dangers were equally his greatest gain and pleasure: he seemed even to gather strength from the former, and confidence and courage from the latter. His inflamed sermons, supported by the admirable example of his heroic virtue, and the most pure maxims of the gospel, delivered with an eloquence and an unction altogether divine, from the overflowings of a heart burning with the most ardent love of God, and penetrated with the deepest sentiments of humility and compunction, had a force which the most hardened hearts seemed not able to withstand. Many sacred orators preach themselves rather than the word of God, and speak with so much art and care, that their hearers consider more how they speak than what they say. This true minister of the gospel never preached or instructed others without having first, for a considerable time, begged of God with great earnestness to move both his tongue and the hearts of his hearers: he mounted the pulpit full of the most sincere distrust in his own abilities and endeavours, and contempt of himself, and with the most ardent thirst for the salvation of the souls of all his hearers. He cast his nets, or rather sowed the seed, of eternal life. The Holy Ghost, who inspired and animated his soul, seemed to speak by the organ of his voice; and gave so fruitful a blessing to his words, that wonderful were the conversions which he every where wrought. Whole assemblies came from his sermons quite changed, and their change appeared immediately in their countenances and behaviour. He never ceased to exhort those who were with him by his inflamed discourses, and the absent by his letters. A collection of these, extant in several languages, is a proof of his eloquence, experimental science of virtue, and tender and affecting charity. The ease with which he wrote them without study, shows how richly his mind was stored with an inexhausted fund of excellent motives and reflections on every subject-matter of piety, with what readiness he disposed those motives in an agreeable methodical manner, and with what unction he expressed them, insomuch that his style appears to be no other than the pure language of his heart, always bleeding for his own sins and those of the world. So various are the instructions contained in these letters, that any one may find such as are excellently suited to his particular circumstances, whatever virtue he desires to obtain, or vice to shun, and under whatever affliction he seeks for holy advice and comfort. It was from the school of an interior experienced virtue that he was qualified to be so excellent a master. This spirit of all virtues he cultivated in his soul by their continual exercise. Under the greatest importunity of business, besides his office and mass, with a long preparation and thanksgiving, he never failed to give to private holy meditation two hours, when he first rose in the morning, from three till five o’clock, and again two hours in the evening before he took his rest, for which he never allowed himself more than four hours of the night, from eleven till three o’clock. During the time of his sickness, towards the latter end of his life, almost his whole time was devoted to prayer, he being no longer able to sustain the fatigue of his functions. His clothes were always very mean, and usually old; his food was such as he bought in the streets, which wanted no dressing, as herbs, fruit, or milk; for he would never have a servant. At the tables of others he ate sparingly of whatever was given him, or what was next at hand. He exceedingly extolled, and was a true lover of holy poverty, not only as it is an exercise of penance, and cuts off the root of many passions, but also as a state dear to those who love our Divine Redeemer, who was born, lived, and died in extreme poverty. Few persons ever appeared to be more perfectly dead to the world than this holy man. A certain nobleman, who was showing him his curious gardens, canals, and buildings, expressed his surprise to see that no beauties and wonders of art and nature could fix his attention or raise his curiosity. The holy man replied, “I must confess that nothing of this kind gives me any satisfaction, because my heart takes no pleasure in them.” This holy man was so entirely possessed with God, and filled with the love of invisible things, as to loathe all earthly things which seemed not to have a direct and immediate tendency to them. He preached at Seville, Cordova, Granada, Bæza, and over the whole country of Andalusia. By his discourses and instructions. St. John of God, St. Francis of Borgia, St. Teresa, Lewis of Granada, and many others were moved, and assisted to lay the deep foundation of perfect virtue to which the divine grace raised them. Many noblemen and ladies were directed by him in the paths of Christian perfection, particularly the Countess of Feria and the Marchioness of Pliego, whose conduct first in a married state, and afterwards in holy widowhood, affords most edifying instances of heroic practices and sentiments of all virtues. This great servant of God taught souls to renounce and cast away that false liberty by which they are the worst of slaves under the tyranny of their passions, and to take up the sweet chains of the divine love which gives men a true sovereignty, not only over all other created things, but also over themselves. He lays down in his works the rules by which he conducted so many to perfect virtue, teaching us that we must learn to know both God and ourselves, not by the lying glass of self-love, but by the clear beam of truth: ourselves, that we may see the depth of our miseries, and fly with all our might from the cause thereof, which is our pride, and other sins: God, that we may always tremble before his infinite majesty, may believe his unerring truth, may hope for a share in his inexhausted mercy, and may vehemently love that incomprehensible abyss of goodness and charity. These lessons he lays down with particular advice how to subside our passions, in his treatise on the Audi Filia, or on those words of the Holy Ghost, Ps. xliv. Hear me, daughter, bend thine ear, forget thy house, &c. The occasion upon which he composed this book was as follows: Donna Sancha Carilla, daughter of Don Lewis Fernandez of Corduba, lord of Guadalcazar, a young lady of great beauty and accomplishments, was called to court to serve in quality of lady of honour to the queen. Her father furnished her with an equipage, and every thing suitable; but before her journey she went to cast herself at the feet of Avila, and make her confession. She afterwards said he reproved her sharply for coming to the sacred tribunal of penance too richly attired, and in a manner not becoming a penitent whose heart was broken with compunction. What else passed in their conference is unknown; but coming from the church, she begged to be excused from going to court, laid aside all her sumptuous attire, and gave herself up entirely to recollection and penance. Thus she led a most retired holy life in her father’s house till she died, most happily, about ten years after. Her pious director wrote this book for her instruction in the practice of an interior life, teaching her how she ought to subdue her passions, and vanquish temptations, especially that of pride: also by what means she was to labour to obtain the love of God, and all virtues. He dwells at length on assiduous meditation, on the passion of Christ, especially on the excess of love with which he suffered so much for us. His other works, and all the writers who speak of this holy man, bear testimony to his extraordinary devotion towards the passion of Christ. From this divine book he learned the perfect spirit of all virtues, especially a desire of suffering with him and for him. Upon this motive he exhorts us to give God many thanks when he sends us an opportunity of enduring some little, that by our good use of this little trial our Lord may be moved to give strength to suffer more, and may send us more to undergo. Envy raising him enemies, he was accused of shutting heaven to the rich, and upon that senseless slander thrown into the prison of the Inquisition at Seville. This sensible disgrace and persecution he bore with incredible sweetness and patience, and after he was acquitted returned only kindnesses to his calumniators. In the fiftieth year of his age he began to be afflicted with the stone, frequent fevers, and a complication of other painful disorders; under the sharpest pains he used often to repeat this prayer: “Lord, increase my sufferings, but give me also patience.” Once in a fit of exquisite pain, he begged our Redeemer to assuage it; and that instant he found it totally removed, and he fell into a gentle slumber. He afterwards reproached himself as guilty of pusillanimity. It is not to be expressed how much he suffered from sickness during the seventeen last years of his life. He died with great tranquillity and devotion on the 10th of May, 1569.—The venerable John of Avila was a man powerful in words and works, a prodigy of penance, the glory of the priesthood, the edification of the church by his virtues, its support by his zeal, its oracle by his doctrine. A profound and universal genius, a prudent and upright director, a celebrated preacher, the apostle of Andalusia; a man revered by all Spain, known to the whole Christian world. A man of such sanctity and authority, that princes adopted his decisions, the learned were improved by his enlightened knowledge, and St. Teresa regarded him as her patron and protector, consulted him as her master, and followed him as her guide and model. See the edifying life of the venerable John of Avila, written by F. Lewis of Granada; also by Lewis Munnoz; and the abstract prefixed by Arnauld d’Andilly to the French edition of his works in folio, at Paris, in 1673. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/3/081.html

Voir aussi :http://communio.stblogs.org/2010/03/saint-john-of-god.html