This is the first post of ten for my #TenSaintsTenDays series, counting down from the Feast of All Saints to Veterans Day, when Centurions Guild is launching the 2016 Armistice Appeal. Check back in every day until November 11th for a new saint, their story, and a prayer to guide us into the way of peace.
Camillus of Lellis – The First Red Cross
Ever since I was a young boy scout, I trained in CPR, First Aid, and Life Guard training so that I could help others in an emergency. It (rightly) made me feel useful and important, that I could save a life if needed. The certification was run through the Red Cross, a nonprofit that traces its roots to 1859 and claims to be the earliest group to provide “neutral and impartial help to wounded soldiers in times of war.” The red cross on a white background was for the organization a reversal of the Swiss flag, but the red cross adorned the brown habits of Venetian veteran Camillus of Lellis and his disciples in the battle of Canizzi as they administered neutral and impartial medical assistance to combatants of both sides of a conflict…. over 250 years before the Red Cross.
Soldiers have faced immense danger and know how to stare down the terrors of hell, especially to assist those in danger. After discharge, many return to their theater of combat as contractors, nonprofit workers, or in a number of different roles. Doing so may seem crazy, reckless, or worse, but the virtues of courage and service take many forms. After two battlefield experiences, Camillus was a heavy gambler and drinker, but that all changed when he found the Church and began his vocation as a physician. His feast day is July 16th.
Lord God almighty, who descended into hell in order to liberate the oppressed, we thank you for the witness of your servant Camillus, who, after having been set free by the blessing of the cross, followed your Son’s example by returning to the hell of war, bearing the very sign of his redemption to the wounded and weary in need. May his courage and humility continue to bless of our lives and make possible our own humble confidence in the face of overwhelming danger and temptation, through Jesus Christ, our heavenly commander. Amen.
Follow me on Twitter to get updates each day as the series unfolds, or start by reading the series intro. Learn about Camillus and more than 45 other #SoldierSaints in my book For God and Country [in that order], © 2013 Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Va. Prayer reprinted by permission.
Are you, or do you know, a #SoldierSaint wrestling between faith and service? Get in touch through my connect page!