Saturday, March 08, 2014

St. John of God ... a troubled life.

At one time the Infant Jesus appeared to him and gave him the name, John of God and bid him to go to Granada.  Until that period in his life, the saint engaged in many occupations and wanderings, farmer, soldier, and shepherd.  In Granada under the influence of St. John of Avila, at the age of 42, he experienced a profound conversion - and suffered a mental breakdown.  He ended up in a sort of prison for the mentally ill and was subject to beatings and starvation, all part of the 'treatment' for mental illness in those days.  John of Avila visited the saint and helped guide him to wellness, encouraging him to devote his life caring for others.  Eventually others joined him in his work and the order of Brothers Hospitallers was formed.

His crazy period is interesting - reminding me of the Russian 'fool for Christ' vocation.  Mental instability isn't always that unusual in the lives of the saints and others who may go through intense conversion experiences.  Interestingly, as a soldier, he was nearly executed because the booty he was supposed to be guarding had been looted; a sympathetic officer obtained his pardon, thus saving his life.   I wonder if the incident could have contributed to a sense of depression or melancholy, leading to his ultimate mental breakdown?

Feast day March 8.

Brief biography here.


  1. Thank you for writing this, Terry. I did not know any of these details about St. John of God. It gives me a lot of hope.

    1. Me too! His life is fascinating.

  2. From the mail:

    Dear TJ

    If you or your viewers would like a pamphlet biography of the Patron Saint of the sick. Just ask.

    Saint John of God pray for us.

    Brother Finnian.

    Brother Finnian Gallagher OH

    Provincial Secretary

    Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God

    “Granada”, Stillorgan, Co Dublin, Ireland

    Tel: 00353 (0)1 277 1648 / 00353 (0)1 277 1495


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.