ST. CAMILLUS DE LELLIS: THE EX-TROOPER—1550-1614
Camillus de Lellis had a good but timid mother; his father seems to have been the very opposite. Both were of respectable, some say of noble, families; and the surname confirms it. But the father, himself the son of a fighting man, had become such a ne’er-do-well that he had long since dragged the family name in the mud. He was a soldier all his life, or rather he was an adventurer; he served in the armies of various monarchs, hiring himself out to whoever would pay him in the manner common at that time, and was actually in the imperial army which sacked Rome in 1527. He appears to have been chiefly conspicuous for having all a soldier’s vices of the period; he was a careless spendthrift and a persistent gambler. The chief consolation he gave to his wife was that he was seldom at home.When Camillus came into the world, he brought only anxiety to his mother. He was the only child that survived his infancy; even before his birth she had a dream which she could only interpret as portending misfortune. Her husband gave her no help, and she had the burden of bringing up her boy as best she could, with a sorry example before him. As for Camillus, from the first he showed only signs of taking after his father. As a child he was lank and ungainly, unusually tall for his years, in appearance anything but attractive, lazy by nature and hating to be taught. [As his mind began to wander it always went in the direction of God’s mercy; he seemed never to tire of thanking Him for all He had done, through the merits of the Precious Blood of Christ. At length the end came. He stretched out his arms in the form of a cross, pronounced again his thanksgiving for the Blood of Christ, and died. It was in the evening of July 14th, 1614. ]
This excerpt is taken from the book SAINTS FOR SINNERS by Alban Goodier, S.J.