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March 8

Saint John of God

Saint John of God

Founder of Order of Brothers Hospitalers


“Labor without stopping; do all the good works that you can, while you still have the time.

Saint John of God

Saint’s Life Story

From Shepard to the Military

Saint John of God was born Juan Cidade on March 8, 1495 in Montemor-o-Novo, Evora, Portugal the son of André Cidade and Teresa Duarte. His early years were spent as a shepherd. Then, in 1522, Juan enlisted in the military. He served as a soldier in the wars between France and Spain.  He travelled over much of Europe and North Africa. Juan also served later against the Turks in Hungary. He oversaw slaves in Morocco. 

A Bookseller

At around the age of 40, Juan decided to make amends and repent for his dissolute and violent previous life by going to Africa to rescue Christian slaves. Instead, he accompanied a a Portuguese family from Gibraltar, Spain to Ceuta, Barbary (what is now Spain on northern Africa). When he returned to Gibraltar, Juan started selling holy pictures and religious books and opened a shop in Granada in 1538.

A Madman Helped by Saint John of Avila

On Saint Sebastian’s Day (January 20) after listening to a profound sermon by Saint John of Avila, Juan was filled with remorse and guilt from his wastrel life.  He acted as madman in order to draw humiliations to himself. At one point, Juan was confined to a lunatic asylum. Saint John of Avila became his spiritual advisor. He got Juan to stop this extraordinary behavior and helped him find a new purpose in life – caring for the sick and the poor.

Founded Order of Brother Hospitallers

Juan opened a house to serve the sick and poor people of Granada. This was the beginnings of the Order of Brother Hospitallers also known as the Order of Hospitallers of Saint John of God. For some time, he was alone in his charitable work, soliciting by night the needed medical supplies, and by day attending to the needs of his patients and the hospital. Soon, he soon received the cooperation of charitable priests and physicians. His devoted work with unremitting zeal for care of the disadvantaged soon attracted others to aid him. In addition, Juan founded the Order of Charity.

Named John of God

Juan would often give the cloak off his back to someone who had no cloak.  To put a stop to his custom of exchanging his cloak with any beggar, Sebastian Ramirez, Bishop of Tui, had a religious habit made for him.  This habit was later adopted in all its essentials as the religious garb of his followers. The bishop imposed on Juan the name given him by the Infant Jesus in a vision, John of God.

Herioc Action

One night, John heard that the Royal Hospital of Granada was on fire.   When he rushed to the scene, John saw that people were just standing there watching the fire burn. All the patients were inside the burning building. This non-action was unthinkable to John. So, he rushed inside, leading all the patients to safety. Once he knew that all the patients were safe, John ran back into the building and started throwing items such as blankets and mattresses out the windows of the hospital. In his mission, John knew the importance of these goods for caring for the sick.   He wanted to salvage as much as possible.

His Death

John of God died on March 8, 1550, his 55th birthday, in Granada. John died of pneumonia after he had plunged into a river to save a young man from drowning. His illness was made worse because he had exhuasted himself. When he realized he was dying, John went over all the hospital accounts, revised the rules and schedules of his staff, and appointed a leader to take his place. He died kneeling before the altar in his hospital chapel.

Saint John of God of was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII on October 16, 1690, over 140 years after his death.   Today, Saint John remains the patron saint of booksellers, hospitals, nurses, printers, and sick people.   His legacy and miracles live on through the Hospitaller Brothers and all of the good works they are accomplishing in in 53 countries operating in more than 300 hospitals with more than 45,000 members.             

Beatified:          September 21, 1630 by Pope Urban VIII

Canonized:       October 16, 1690 by Pope Alexander VIII

Feast Day:         March 8

Patron Saint:    Booksellers; Hospitals; Nurses;  Printers;  Sick People



Not all saints start out their lives being holy, pious and virtuous. Saint John of God was an example of one these saints. He was a soldier and fought in several wars. He was living a violent lifestyle until the age of 40 when he heard a sermon by Saint John of Avila. Saint John of God changed his ways.  As a lay brother, Saint John of God founded the Brothers of Hospitallers of St. John of God (O.H.). John’s initial small acts of love with the Hospitaller Brothers continue on today with his mission of caring for the poor and sick in 53 countries around the world. 

How can you follow Saint John of God’s example of service to the poor through your gift of self?  Remember that Jesus, like Saint John of God, is not asking us to do anything that they both did not do. May all those in need encounter a servant like you, as generous as Saint John of God, to satisfy their basic needs.


God, You filled St John of God with the spirit of compassion. Grant that by practicing works of charity, we may deserve to be numbered among the elect in Your Kingdom.

Saint John of God, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia –  St. John of God should be new patron for the mentally ill

All Saints & Martyrs – St. John of God

Anastpaul – St John of God Quotes

AnaStpaul – Saint of the Day – 8 March – St John of God OH (1495-1550)

Catholic Exchange -St. John of God

Catholic Fire – St. John of God Patron of Sick and Dying

Catholic News Agency – St. John of God, Confessor

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint John of God

Franciscan Media – Saint John of God

Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God – Our Founder

Loyola Press – Saint John of God Feast day March 8

My Catholic Life – Saint John of God, Religious

Newman Ministry – Saint John of God

Saints, Feast, FamilySaint John of God’s Story

Saints for Sinners – John of God

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint John of God (1495-1550)

Saint of the Day – March 8 St. John of God

Saint Resources – John of God

uCatholic – St. John of God

Wikipedia – John of God

Video Link

St. John of God – YouTube (Catholic Online)