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John of God

1495-1550. Founder of Brothers Hospitallers.* Born John Ciudad in Portugal, he was a soldier until forty, when he returned to Spain as a shepherd lamenting his sinful life. Hoping for martyrdom in Africa, he returned to Granada (1538) to sell books and religious pictures. Ministered to by John of Avila, he began his ministry to the sick poor and founded a hospital there. Many were attracted to the work, which had archiepiscopal approval, and Bishop Tuy named him “John of God,” prescribing a habit for him and his companions. The order, Brothers Hospitallers, received papal approval in 1572, and its Rule was devised after his death. Canonized in 1690, he was declared patron of hospitals and the sick (1886) and of nurses (1930).