Taken at Münster, Germany, Clemenskirche
I have to admit that it took me a while to find out who that is, as there are some saints who wear the crown of thorns.
But when I read that the church belonged to the order of the Brothers of Mercy I finally knew it was John of God.
~St. John of God was born João Cidade 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.
As a young man, St. 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 name of the Lord.
He moved to Spain, where he served as a heroic soldier under the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and fought in a few battles. After many heroic exploits, he worked disseminating religious books, using the recent Gutenberg moveable-type printing press to provide people with the word of the Lord.
He experienced a major spiritual conversion on Saint Sebastian’s day (January 20), while listening to a sermon by Saint John of Ávila, the man 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 brought on by the Lord and was subsequently thrown into the madhouse, where he recovered after a visit from Blessed 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, Spain, he expended all of his energy 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. St. 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 honor to his labors is that this order has been officially entrusted with the medical and dental care of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church in Vatican City, Rome, Italy.
He died on March 8, 1550, his 55th birthday. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII in 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.~