Our Patron Saint
Saint John of God was chosen by Bishop Furlong as the patron of the Congregation when they were established in 1871. The Sisters were inspired and challenged by John's example and commitment to the care of the poor and vulnerable people of his time. His life continues to inspire us today and offers us a powerful example of one person's practical expression of compassionate love.
Juan Ciudad was born at Montemor-o-novo (Evora), Portugal, en 1495. When he was eight years old, he left for Spain with the cleric who had spent the night in his home, and stayed at Oropesa (Toledo) working in the service of the home of Francisco Mayoral.He spent most of his life there. The Mayorals were pastoralists. He devoted almost 20 years to grazing the sheep. It seems everyone liked John. It was in this time that we believe he was developing the true meaning of life, passing through the typical ups and downs of his teenage years, his youth and his maturer years. Then he left Oropesa to to enlist as a soldier in the army. When things did not work out fro him he returned to Oropesa - feeling a failure. before finding his true calling, caring for the sick, and the poor. In 1538 John went to Granada and, while there, he heard the famous speaker, John of Avila, preaching in one of the churches of the city. He spoke of the need to serve God. John, conscious of his own ill spent life, became very agitated and cried out for forgiveness and began to tear his clothes. Some, thinking he was insane, had him admitted to a psychiatric hospital where he encountered first-hand the terrible conditions endured by people suffering mental illness. When John left this hospital, he knew what was to be his life's work.
His ambition was to open a house for all poor, suffering people where they would be treated with dignity and care. Help came from many sources: well-to-do ladies, rich businessmen, the Bishop and many others including the people of Granada and the surrounding area.
John’s first house of hospitality opened in 1539. To maintain his house he often had to beg. He set out with his basket and cried out to the people "Do good for yourselves, brothers, by doing good for others". John rose before dawn each morning to pray. Then with the assistance of a few helpers, he provided food and care for the patients.
The first helpers that committed themselves to the care of the weak and the poor were not bound by vows. These were the informal beginnings of the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God who still care for the sick and needy in many parts of the world to the present time.
The Bishop of Granada endorsed the name "John of God," the name he was called by the local people. John spent the remainder of his life caring for the poor of Granada and the surrounding area. He died on 8th March 1550. He is the Patron of hospitals, the sick, nurses, booksellers and firefighters.