Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint John of God (1495–1550)

Saint John of God (1495–1550)

Patron saint of hospitals, sick people, and firefighters

Feast day: March 8

Saint John of God was a very enthusiastic person. When he got an idea in his head, he acted on it in a big way. John stopped practicing his Christian faith during a stint with the military. Once he realized the sinfulness of his ways, he dedicated his life to serving God and traveled to Africa to free Christian captives and possibly become a martyr.

When he was advised that his motives for martyrdom weren't spiritually sound, John returned to Spain. He felt unsettled until he heard Saint John of Avila preach. John of God was so moved by the sermon that he ran through the streets beating himself and fervently begging for God’s mercy. John’s wild display worried the townspeople and they admitted him into a mental institution. After he was released and reprimanded by John of Avila, John of God began to channel his zeal and enthusiasm into ministering to the poor.

He established a house for the sick poor, and he provided for them by begging on the streets. Many people were inspired by John’s great compassion for the less fortunate and began to provide monetary donations and supplies to his cause. It is reported that angels came to help John in the early days of his work.

Eventually, John gained a number of followers who formed the Brothers Hospitallers after his death. This community still exists and operates hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the world today. 

(Image CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)