Tag Archives: John of God

John of God — March 8

Manuel Gómez-Moreno González. San Juan de Dios salvando a los enfermos de incendio del Hospital Real (1880)

Bible connection

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. — James 1:22-27 NLT

All about John of God (1495-1550)

The Roman Catholic order called the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God opened a spectacular shrine to their founder in Granada, Spain in 1759. It has been called the city’s best kept secret trove of art.

The Portuguese man, Joao Duarte Cidade, has an inspiring life story. He ended up an orphan, became a soldier, then a refugee, and then a printer. He did not have much direction for his life until he was over 40 when he had a vision of Jesus who told him to move to Granada. He moved, and was so overwhelmed by his religious experiences there the townspeople had him committed. A spiritual director helped refine his understanding and then helped him apply his fervor to helping the sick.

John’s personal hospital housed a collection of people he found who had no way to receive care — the crippled, mentally ill, starving, demented, the same people we still cast off today. Soon people joined him in service, including two notorious enemies he helped reconcile by helping them work side by side expressing their true selves in acts of love. Before long there was an organized group which was recognized as an order by the church. It is still active in 53 countries.

John died of pneumonia on his 55 birthday after he unsuccessfully tried to save a man drowning in the cold Genil River. He passed in the house of his benefactor, even though he asked to be left among the poor in his hospital. The Hospitallers invite pilgrims into the luxurious home, which is now a museum.

The picture above does not do justice to the gaudy splendor of the order’s  over-the-top expression of praise for God and John. It is a baroque masterpiece full of art, passion, irony and oddness. For instance, the remains of the saint are in a silver chest which he probably would have cashed in to feed orphans. On the other hand, unsuspecting tourists are herded into the chapel at appointed times and are led through the story the wall tells about slavation and compassion. Parts of it are even mechanized and extend out to make a point! It is all about God’s incarnate love in action.

Part of John’s story includes what people claim were his last words:

There are three things that make me uneasy. The first is that I have received so many graces from God, and have not recognized them, and have repaid them with so little of my own.

The second is that after I am dead, I fear lest the poor women I have rescued, and the poor sinners I have reclaimed, may be treated badly.

The third is that those who have trusted me with money, and whom I have not fully repaid, may suffer loss on my account.


Wikipedia has a helpful article.

The Hospitaller Order of St. John of God has their definitive bio

The website of the Basilica of St. John of God in Granada Spain

Roman Catholic online school bio:

What do we do with this?

John was in his forties before he did his best work. It is never to late to follow what your soul knows is your destiny.

He had a vision. Paul says we should not follow people who are puffed up with their visions and overly abusive of their bodies:

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind.” (Colossians 2:18)

But Paul was not afraid to follow one of his own, no matter the cost:

“Passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” (Acts 16:8-10)

How do you sort out Paul’s and John of God’s visions and where does it lead you?