Pope to Hospitaller and Camillian Sisters: ‘Be audacious in love for the sick'

Welcoming the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Daughters of St. Camillus, Pope Francis urges them to be audacious and “mad of love” for the sick they assist as their founders were.

May 23, 2024

Pope Francis meeting the Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Daughters of St. Camillus (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

By Lisa Zengarini
Pope Francis, on Thursday, addressed a group of Sisters Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Daughters of St. Camillus on the occasion of their respective General Chapters.  Both congregations are devoted to assisting the sick and the poor.

Opening his address the Pope encouraged the nuns to heed the example of their foundresses and founders, pointing to their audacity and the “holy madness of love” that drove them to found their Congregations in the late 19th century. “If we don’t have love we are finished,” he noted.

We all need healing
He began by recalling the extraordinary story of Maria Angustias Gimenez, the Venerable Maria Josefa Recio and St. Benedetto Menni, who, inspired by the charisma of Saint John of God, founded the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart in 1881 in Spain to assist  the mentally ill which, he noted, was a revolutionary idea for those days. “This selfless gesture is beautiful,” he remarked.

Since then, congregationhas extended its assistance to other forms of suffering and poverty  “to make God's mercy present in the practice of hospitality”, involving  patients and their families along with  doctors, nuns, and volunteers “in a ‘community’ climate in which everyone participates and contributes to the good of others.

“This,”  remarked the Pope “is beautiful, because in this way everyone heals together, each according to his need and the wounds he carries. In fact,” he added, "we must not forget that we all need healing, and taking care of each other is good for us, it heals us, not only the body, but also the heart.”

Suffering is overcome only by love
Pope Francis went on to recall Saint Giuseppina Vannini who along with Blessed Luigi Tezza founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Saint Camillus in Italy, a few years later, to assist the sick inspired by the charisma Saint Camillus de Lellis.  The Pope noted that this Italian woman saint who had suffered herself several health issues was animated/motivated by her personal experience of suffering, which has she often repeated  “is overcome only by love".

Dare without fear
As the two Congregations carry out their respective General Chapters, Pope Francis therefore urged the members of the two religious congregations to let themselves be spurred “by the same audacity” of their foundresses and founders: “Dare, without fear, and let yourselves be questioned by the new forms of poverty of our time, which are many he said.”In this way you will put to good use the legacy you have received, and will always keep it alive and young.”

Thanking them for their ongoing work at the service of the sick and the poor, the Pope concluded by inviting them not to “lose their smile and joy of the heart.”--Vatican News

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