Letter from St John of God


Brief History




Derek J. Thomas and Brian P. O’Donnell
The history of the Order as a body separate from its founder, Saint John of God, began with his death on 8 March 1550 - in the middle of the 16th Century.


1550: When John of God died work was already under way on the construction of a third hospital in Granada that would carry his name. In the two years after his death it became urgent to transfer the John of God hospital from Los Gomeles to the new premises that were well on the way to completion near the church and monastery of the Jeronymite Friars outside the walls of the city. To hurry things along the Archbishop, Don Pedro Guerrero, gave a final donation so that doors and windows could be put in and the poor admitted.
1552: On 24 January, the appointed leader of the fraternity that was at the centre of the movement of compassionate service that continued the work of Saint John of God after his death, Brother Antón Martín, moved Brothers and patients from Saint John of God’s second hospital in Granada on a street called Los Gomeles to a new hospital constructed for Saint John of God’s work on the abandoned foundations of the first Jeronymite monastery in Granada. In the meantime Brother Antón Martín, acting on a royal request of Philip II who was planning to move his court to Madrid, had founded a hospital in that city - located in the geographic centre of Spain. He returned to the Madrid hospital and died there on 24 December 1553.

1562: Ten years into the history of the Order the Brothers were growing in number and their range of activities was spreading. Their position in the hospital of John of God was complicated by the fact that the Jeronymite Friars considered that they were actually running the hospital and that the Brothers were only responsible for staffing it. This, as can be easily understood, led to some tensions and conflicts. These would grow until, eventually, the matter would have to be resolved by an ecclesiastical tribunal.

1568: When the Moors who had gone south from Granada to live in the Las Alpujarras region rebelled against the new rulers of Spain, some Brothers went from Granada to the battle field to give first aid to the wounded, and to bury the dead. The provision of medical services to the armed forces of Spain, and later Portugal, became a part of the history of Saint John of God’s Brothers and would grow and continue for several centuries. In accordance with their spirit of non-discriminatory service they also sent Moslem women and children who had lost their families in the conflict back to their hospital at Granada to be cared for and treated.

1570: At this time the Brothers were dressing in a ‘habit’ that was really a normal style of dress for the period. This enabled imposters to collect alms in the name of the Brothers. So they decided to ask Pope Pius V to recognise their fraternity as a religious institute and, amongst other privileges, to allow them to wear a monastic scapular. Brothers Sebastian Arias and Peter Soriano went to Rome and received a warm reception from the Pope whom they reported to have said of the religious institute that they proposed, “This is the flower which was missing from the Church’s garden”.

1572: The Pope approved the Brothers of John of God as a religious family by means of the Bull “Licet ex debito” dated on 1 January 1572. The Brothers were given the Rule of Saint Augustine and placed under the jurisdiction of local Bishops.

1576: Papal approval resulted in an increase in the ranks of the Brothers. Several newcomers brought with them companions with whom they had formed fraternities dedicated to the care of the sick. One such newcomer was Brother Peter the Sinner who not only brought his companions but also a number of hospitals that they had been conducting at Ronda, Seville, Malaga, Antequera and Arcos de la Frontera.

1580: A deadly epidemic, referred to at that time as “catarrh” swept through Spain and caused King Philip II to write to each of the Brothers’ hospitals within his dominions asking for Brothers to go “with all haste” to the worst afflicted areas. The Brothers responded generously and bravely to this request and many of them lost their lives to the plague while nursing people affected by it. The first to do so was Brother Sebastian Arias who died of the plague at Namar in Flanders.

1580: This was also the year in which Sir Francis Drake played his famous game of bowls before taking on the mighty Spanish Armada. On board the Spanish vessels were fifteen Brothers of John of God. As usual, they were responsible for the care of the the sick and wounded. This Armada suffered a great defeat but all of the Brothers survived. One of them was captured and later ransomed by King Phillip II.

1581: The Brothers at the John of God Hospital at Granada began to receive requests from existing hospitals to be joined to their brotherhood. Some requests came from further afield than Spain and Italy. Letters were received from the heads of Hospitals in Panama, Perú and at the port of Nombre de Dios. These letters placed these foundations under the authority of the Order in Spain and asked for the Granada hospital’s Constitution. This was sent to them in 1581.

1584: Although the Brothers had a hospital in Italy, at Naples, from 1572 they wished to have a presence in Rome. A modest beginning was made by opening a small hospital in Rome’s Piazza di Pietra. This was supplanted in 1584 when Brother Peter Soriano was able to buy the Monastery and Church of St. John Calybita on the Tiber Island. He transferred his hospital to the Tiber Island and renamed it the "Hospital of St. John Calybita".
In Granada a man died who had been a close co-worker of Saint John of God. His name was Juan de Avila but John of God had always called him ‘Angulo’. Angulo had married Beatriz de Ayvar on 14 May 1549, less than a year before the death of John of God. The couple had four children. The commitment of Angulo to Hospitality was not personalised in John of God and he remained part of the John of God movement for the many years that elapsed between John’s death and his own. The relationship between Angulo and John of God lasted six years. His relationship with the Brothers lasted another 33 years.

1585: the Archbishop of Granada gave the John of God Hospital a Constitution. This document significantly influenced later Constitutions of the Order and introduced the basket and staff as part of the "uniform" of a Brother. One significant feature of this Granada Constitution, which carried through to the 1616 Constitutions, was the close relationship between the spiritual formation of the Brothers and their practical work, with the Novice Master responsible for instructing his charges in the care of patients.

1586: On 1 October, by means of the Brief, "Etsi pro debito", Pope Sixtus V raised the Congregation to the status of a regular Order and authorised the first General Chapter to be held in the Hospital of St. John Calybita on the Tiber Island. The papal brief also required the election of a General Superior and the drawing up of a Constitution – the Communities, however, were still subject to the local Bishops. Thus the hospital on Tiber Island became the Mother-House of the Order at a time when its hospitals numbered twenty five: seventeen in Spain, five in Italy and three in Latin America – in Colombia, Mexico and Perú.

1587: The first General Chapter was held from June 20 - 24. It had been delayed by an appeal to the Pope by Spain’s King Philip II to revoke the brief that established the Brotherhood as an Order. The King explained to the Pope that he was concerned that, if the Brothers were to become an Order, they would soon be diverted from their principal work of caring for the poor and needy, especially those who were sick and would get caught up in studies and theology. He said that there were already plenty of religious Orders in Spain. Finally, the King felt that the need to hold General Chapters in Rome was too inconvenient. The Pope did not agree to the King’s request but postponed the first General Chapter until the following year.
A set of Constitutions was drawn up by the first General Chapter to replace the one given to the Brothers at Granada by the Archbishop. A new aspect of the Constitutions was a specific requirement to provide the armies of Spain with medical care whenever requested by the King. There is an interesting reference in this Constitution to women who worked in the hospitals of the Brothers to care for sick women. Some of these wore the same habit as the Brothers. The Constitutions provided for those women who had "the necessary qualities" to take the same vows and observe the same Rule as the Brothers.
This first General Chapter was attended by seven vocals from Spain and five from Italy, each being the Superior of a hospital. They elected Brother Peter Soriano to be the First Superior General of the Order and created two Provinces: Spain, which had 20 hospitals, including three in the New World, and Italy which had five hospitals. The Chapter adopted a crest for the Order showed the begging bag with a wooden alms box attached, crossed with a staff.

1588: The Order`s first Prior General, Brother Peter Soriano, like John of God, was an ex-soldier and attracted a number of other ex-soldiers to the new Order. These included Brother Sebastian who, in 1586, introduced the Order into Sicily when he founded the hospital of "St. Peter in Chains", which soon became the Mother House of the Sicilian Province. Brother Peter Soriano was so highly regarded by Don John of Austria and Pope Pius V that the latter wanted to make Brother Peter a cardinal – an honour that Brother Peter declined through personal humility. In 1584 Brother Peter opened a small hospital at Perugia. He died there when he had been Prior General for little more than a year.
The Province of Lombardy–Venice was founded when the Archbishop of Milan summoned the Brothers to Milan, following the example of his predecessor St. Charles Borromeo. The foundations were laid for the Brothers’ first hospital in that region of Italy. It was dedicated to St. John the Baptist but was later renamed the Santa Maria Ara Coeli Hospital. This part of Italy experienced first the domination of Spain and then Austria. Consequently the Order in this place was affected by the vexatious legislation that existed in the Empire under Joseph II. It was in this year that Brother Peter Egiziaco made first profession into the hands of St. John Grande. In 1611 he had the honour of making solemn profession into the hands of the Pope himself – Pope Paul V. This event took place in the chapel of the Pope’s apartments in the Palace of the Quirinale which Pope Gregory XIII built in 1583 as a papal summer residence. Pope Paul V commissioned the completion of the works on the main building of the palace. Papal conclaves were held there in 1823, 1829, 1831, and 1846.

1589: The death of Brother Peter Soriano required the holding of the Second General Chapter. This began on the 39th anniversary of the Founder’s death in 1589 and another Spaniard, Brother John Mendez, was elected Superior General. Sicily, where work had begun only three years earlier, already had seven hospitals and became the third Province. This Chapter was remarkable in that, while the first General Chapter had been dominated by Spanish Brothers, they were not present at all in 1589, a fact which caused the validity of the process later to be called into question.
Significant therefore was this Chapter’s removal of references to providing services to the King of Spain and his armies. There was also no longer any reference to sick women and those who cared for them, since such work was rarely undertaken in Italy. Perhaps most significant was the reference only to two Provinces, Italy and Sicily, almost as though the 1592 partition of the Order was already a reality. Another point of interest was the adoption of the title Prior for the local Superior. This was consistent with the practice of religious families that followed the Rule of St. Augustine.
The habit worn by the Brothers before 1589 was made of unbleached material, resulting in varying shades of "off white". The new Constitutions specified that it be made of a black and white striped coarse woollen material, which looked rather like common mattress ticking although the black stripe was wider and gave the habit a darker look. The Constitutions also set down that the Brothers should wear rope sandals and could use a wide brimmed hat and cloak for travelling. The cowl, formerly long and narrow, was now shortened and rounded, because of a petition by the Capuchin Friars to the Holy See, which claimed that Hospitaller Brothers were often mistaken for Capuchins.

1590: Pope Sixtus V died and the next two years saw the election of no fewer than four Popes. They were Urban VII, Gregory XIV, Innocent IX and Clement VIII. The last of these, on 13 February 1592, issued the papal brief, "Ex omnibus" which accepted the arguments of King Phillip II. The new Pope believed, mistakenly, that the brief had already been fully considered. Thus he returned the Brothers to the authority of their local Bishop. The Brothers were not to be governed by their own Superior General according to their own Constitutions. No longer canonically connected, the Brothers in Spain and Italy were united only by their mission, lifestyle and foundation story. Their Prior General, Brother John Mendez, was unable to remedy the situation and returned to Spain where he ended his days.

1591: The Church had a long-standing practice of appointing Cardinal Protectors for those Institutes that requested such a favour. The Order has a tradition that Pope Gregory XIII verbally appointed St. Charles Borromeo its first Cardinal Protector even before our Brotherhood had achieved the status of a Religious Order. However, the first recorded appointment of Cardinal Protector was by Pope Gregory IV, on 8 May 1591, when he appointed Cardinal Jerome Rusticucci who was also the Cardinal Vicar of Rome. It was established at that time that the Order’s Cardinal Protector would always be the Vicar of Rome. This practice continued until 1964 when Pope Paul VI terminated the practice. The last Cardinal Protector of the Order was Cardinal Clement Micara who died on 11 March 1965.

1596: In both Spain and Italy the Brothers, although governed by the local bishop, continued to take their four vows as though the Brief "Ex omnibus" did not exist. In Italy, where the Spanish Kings influence was minimal, the Brothers obtained from Pope Clement VIII a new brief "Romani pontificis" that revoked some of the provisions of "Ex omnibus" as far as the Italian Brothers were concerned. However some significant restrictions remained: Only the vow of service in the hospitals (‘Hospitality’) was to be taken. Brothers were not permitted take Holy Orders, and the Congregation would remain subject to the local Bishops.
The Italian Congregation, two months after the brief was issued, held its first General Chapter with the Priors of the 29 Italian hospitals all present. Brother Paul Gallo was elected Prior General and new Constitutions were prepared. For the first time, the description of the habit omitted mention of the basket and stick. There was also a change to the Provinces. Instead of Italy and Sicily there would now be Rome and Naples.

1596: The end of the 16th century, or the end of the first fifty years after the death of Saint John of God, found his followers in fairly good circumstances. While their Italian confreres focused attention on Europe, the Spanish Brothers were sent by their King to the New World as medical orderlies on ships bound for the Indies. On his return from one of these trips Brother Francis Hernandez met with Phillip II and obtained permission to return with five of his Brothers and take charge of hospitals in the New World cities of Cartagena de Indias, Panama and Nombre de Dios. Although he opposed the Brothers becoming a religious order, Phillip supported their work. In successive decrees he granted them various permissions and provided for their upkeep. Brother Francis Hernandez and his five companions arrived in Cartagena, Columbia, in 1596. This foundation became a very active centre which mothered new foundations throughout Latin America: in Cuba, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and other colonies.

(The Order now developed as two separate religious Congregations, although this was an imposed separation and did not diminish the spirit of unity that prevailed amongst the Brothers of different nationalities and developmental traditions. The corporate memory of the followers of Saint John of God is one of unity in the spirit and mission of John of God Hospitality. Consequently, this history will speak of the activities of the Brothers from the 16th to the 19th centuries as those of the Order even though it was not until 1884 that the restored Houses of the Spanish Congregation were established as a Province of the Italian Congregation and the Order was once more a universally united body of the followers of Saint John of God.)

1600: The 17th century began for the Order with the death of Saint John Grande. When, in 1600, the plague struck Jerez John Grande found himself confronting the pestilence for the second time in 26 years. Before the epidemic passed the saint himself would become one of its victims when, on 3 June 1600, like Saint John of God before him, he took the cross from the wall in his cell and, embracing it, died. Beginning the 17th century with 57 hospitals in Spain and Italy, the Brothers opened a further 76 hospitals between 1600 and 1630. The two congregations of Saint John of God’s followers did not overlap. Spain was a great maritime nation and the Brothers’ movements tended to "follow the fleet", whereas the Italians travelled mainly through Europe, until their French Brothers, who also had a maritime tradition, established foundations in Canada and the Antilles.

Hospitals: When the Italian Congregation was "born" in 1596 it encompassed 29 hospitals. Hospitals in Europe at that time were not the complex health care delivery institutions of later times. They were more like poorhouses with an infirmary that also served as a hostel for poor travellers and pilgrims. Except for historically notable institutions in great capitals, such as the Hôtel Dieu in Paris, most hospitals were quite small and were run by religious orders or confraternities of laymen. When, around the time of John of God, the Hôpital Général opened at Paris, it was described as a combination of hospital, poorhouse and factory. One did not have to have any great degree of medical knowledge to open a hospital in John of God’s times. Hospitals were usually set up for devout reasons, sometimes as the result of a vow made by the recipient of a heavenly favour. Their function primarily was to care for the sick, the old, the lame and others in need of shelter. Their main objective was to ensure a pious passing for the dying. Specifically medical aims and functions were secondary considerations. The Order’s tradition and practice was that the care of the sick required proper treatment and cleanliness, attention and good order. This can be seen by the Constitutions of the Order’s hospital at Granada. These laid down meticulous regulations aimed at achieving careful attention, proper treatment, hygiene and good order. They provided for everything: from the reception of the patient with an inventory being made of his possessions, through his being washed and put into a clean bed and gown, to be visited every day by the physician, given good food and fresh bread, offered pastoral care, to how his corpse would be attended to if he died while in hospital. The daily routine required that bed pans be removed immediately and that the wards be swept daily and fumigated up to three times a day if necessary. Quietness and tranquillity were to prevail in the wards and the hospital. The adherence of the Brothers to these standards is behind the reputation they developed and the many invitations they received to establish or take over hospitals in Europe and the New World.

1602: The Order arrived in a new European country when, in 1602, it was invited to send Brothers to France by Queen Maria de Médici, wife of France’s King Henry IV. In acceptance of this invitation six Brothers were sent under the leadership of Brother Giovanni Bonelli. At first they operated a hospital in a building on land conceded to them by the Abbot of Saint Germain des Prés. In 1613 they demolished the old building to allow for the construction of the Hôpital de la Charité. The Queen herself laid the first stone in the presence of her husband, the whole of the Royal Court and the Florentine Cardinal, H. E. Giovanni Bonsi. On completion, the 200 bed hospital became the focal point of all future expansion of the Order in France and its colonies, and was the mother-house when France became a Province. Internally, the hospital had six wards, each specialising in different areas of medicine and surgery. This kind of separation had been employed by Saint John of God in Granada. However it was still considered progressive more than fifty years later in France. This hospital subsequently developed a speciality in urology, although the term itself was not used then. It became a teaching hospital, authorised by the King to confer degrees in surgery. (The original buildings of the Hôpital de la Charité were demolished around 1935 to make way for the new Faculty of Medicine of Paris.)

1603: Cardinal Camillo Borghese, destined to become Pope Paul V, was appointed the Cardinal Vicar of Rome and, as went with that office, also became Cardinal Protector of the Order.

1604: Two years after the Italian Brothers began work in France, Prince Charles of Liechtenstein became the Ambassador to Rome of "The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation", the title which was used for 850 years for a conglomerate of minor states and duchies. In 1806, the more manageable name "Austria" was substituted. While in Rome Prince Charles came to know and admire the work done by the Brothers on the Tiber Island and he approached the Superior General to suggest that a foundation of the Order be made in his own country. In 1605, the Prince left for Feldberg, in Moravia, accompanied by two John of God Brothers. One of them was the eminent surgeon, Brother Gabriel Ferrara. The Brothers were given control of the military hospital of St. Barbara in Feldberg. (The town is now called Valtice and is in the Czech Republic.) This was strongly Lutheran country where the Brothers could not speak the language. Consequently, despite their Royal patronage, they had to deal with many obstacles before they finally overcame local prejudices. Despite this difficult beginning, a steady flow of vocations developed and the hospital at Feldberg became a teaching centre.

This year, on 28 May, one of the most faithful and generous supporters of John of God died. She was Doña Maria de Sarmiento Cobos y Mendoza, the Third Duchess of Sessa. The marriage of Doña Maria Sarmiento de los Cobos y Mendoza to Don Gonzalo II Fernández de Córdoba, the young 3rd Duke of Sessa, took place in 1541, just nine years prior to John of God’s death. Gonzalo was the grandson of Gonzalo Fernando de Cordoba, the hero of the re-conquest of Granada who is known to history as El Gran Capitan. Both the Third Duke and Duchess of Sessa figure prominently in the account of John of God’s life as written by Francisco de Castro but it was the Duchess who took pride of place in John of God’s affections. After John of God’s death the Duchess of Sessa continued to support the work that was his legacy. Doña Maria’s husband Gonzalo III Duke of Sessa died on the 3rd December 1578. As a widow she had retired to the Mendoza Palace on the Plaza de la Trinidad at Granada where she had spent her childhood. Doña Maria passed the remainder of her days living a life immersed in piety and charity just as John of God had once praised in her. She founded and endowed the Convent de la Piedad in Granada and entrusted it to Dominican nuns. This convent was adjacent to her palace and while she did not become a nun herself, she shared their lifestyle, praying with them and eventually finishing her days with them. To this day Doña Maria’s memory is still treasured within "The Family of Saint John of God" for the comfort and support she extended to the Founder and his Order.

1605: Spain’s King Phillip III despatched the Portuguese navigator, Pedro Fernández de Quirós, to "discover and conquer" the Great Southland of the southern Pacific. On board his three ships were 300 men, including four Brothers of John of God who were charged with providing medical and nursing attention to the members of the expedition (and subsequently offer their healing ministry to the indigenous peoples of the Pacific). In May 1606, the expedition reached the group of islands that we now call Vanuatu. The landfall of de Quirós was on the main island of the group which was called Espiritu Santo. Later the English explorer Captain Cook put the group of islands on his charts as The New Hebrides. In fact, de Quiros believed he had reached his goal and called the land that he could see "Austrialia" – in homage to the Hapsburgs, who ruled Austria as well as Spain.

1606: On 14 May 1606 de Quirós took possession of all the territories to the south of Espiritu Santo in the name of the King of Spain, as well as all the other groups included in his expedition – including the Franciscans and the Brothers of John of God. Following this historic act the three ships of the expedition were separated by a storm at sea and de Quirós returned to Acapulco (Mexico) and then Spain. Meanwhile his second-in-command, Luis Vaz de Torres, continued to explore and discover other lands on his way north to the Philippines. During that voyage, on 16 September 1606, he seems to have sighted the Australian continent but it is uncertain whether he landed, or whether there were Brothers of John of God with him. There is no documented evidence that the four Brothers were divided between the ships but it could be thought strange if they were all on de Quirós’s ship – especially since the possible return of de Quirós to Alcuplulco if separated by some event from the other ships was a strategy that the commanders of the two principle vessels had already agreed upon.
1608: Cardinal Camillo Borghese, who had been the Cardinal Protector of the Italian Brothers known popularly in Italy as the "Fatebenefratelli", had become Pope Paul V. Confident of the new Pope’s understanding and goodwill, Brother Peter Egiziaco, Prior of the Madrid hospital, approached King Phillip III and Queen Margaret of Spain. Both wrote letters supportive of the Spanish Brothers to the Pope and Brother Peter himself carried them to Rome. As a result of personal and written supplications, on 12 April 1608, Pope Paul V issued the Brief "Piorum virorum" which gave to the Spanish Brothers similar rights and responsibilities to those that were already enjoyed by the Brothers in Italy. The Spanish Brothers were to hold Chapters every six years and the first was held in Madrid in October 1608 when Brother Peter Egiziaco was elected Superior General. Brother Peter had requested autonomy for the Spanish Brothers and that was probably the only course that would have received the support of King Phillip III and his Queen. The result of this political ploy was that, from then on, the Order existed as two autonomous congregations. The Italian Congregation also held its Chapter in 1608 when the Province of Lombardy came into being. This Province was also known, at various stages of its history, as the Province of Milan or the Lombardy-Venice Province.

1609: The fame of Brother Gabriel Ferrara reached Poland and when King Sigismund III became seriously ill and his own doctors were unable to cure him he called Brother Gabriel from Feldberg. Brother Gabriel treated the King successfully and the King rewarded him by presenting the Brothers with a hospital in Krakow. The Brothers, who became known in Poland as the "Bonifratrzy", made other foundations in Poland – at Sebrzydowice in 1611 and Lowicz in 1615. The houses of the Order in Poland were formed into the Commissariat or Vicariate General of Poland.

1611: From Spain Brother Peter Egiziaco approached Pope Paul V again and asked him to promote the Spanish Congregation to the status of an Order. The Pope granted this in the brief "Romanus pontifex" issued on 7 July 1611. The Spanish bishops were not universally pleased with this development and made unsuccessful efforts to gain the support of the King in blocking the attempts of the Brothers to put the new brief into effect. Another brief "Ineffabilis divinae majestatis" followed a month after "Romanus pontifex" and gave effect to the Constitutions of the Spanish Province which had been drafted at the General Chapter of 1608. Now, in order to be a foundation of the Congregation, a hospital had to have at least "eight Brothers and twelve beds". The General was to have two assistants, a procurator and a secretary, all elected, and the General was also to be Prior of the Madrid hospital. There was also to be a Commissioner General for the Indies and their islands, whilst the Papal Nuncio was to preside over General Chapters. Brothers Superior were to be elected by their communities.

1612: The Spanish Brothers established a small convalescent home at Bagumbaya, near Manila in the Philippines. It was probably not their first visit to the Philippines because, as medics and nurses the Spanish Brothers travelled far and wide in the ships of their nation. The little convalescent home had a chequered history being first abandoned and then re-opened in 1621 by Brothers from Mexico. Abandoned once more, it re-opened in 1645 and finally closed in 1656. Manila was the seat of the colonial government of Spain while it officially controlled the Philippines Islands for over three centuries from 1565 to 1898. During the centuries of Spanish colonisation the Brothers set up, or took over, various hospitals – in both Manila and in other parts of the Philippines. The locations of hospitals and charitable works that appear in the early history of the Order in the Philippines include: Manila, Bagumbaya, Zamboanga, Cebu and Bulacán. Some of the early Brothers lost their lives to hostile forces while engaged in the apostolate of Hospitality. Amongst those we remember especially are Brother Anthony de Santiago, Brother Lawrence Gómez and Brother John-Anthony Guémez. The presence of the Order in the Philippines reached the status of a Vice-Province. However, its novitiate depended on the Provincial of Mexico. When the Order was extinguished in Spain and Mexico by the anticlericalism of the 19th century the bishop of Manila stopped the Order from admitting novices because there was no longer a canonical person to approve their reception. The number of Brothers in the Philippines then lessened until the Order disappeared with the death of the last Brother in 1887 – Brother Manuel Peña.
1613: In Mexico, this year was notable because of the admission of Cyprian de Llanos to the novitiate. However his admission to the Order was merely the final remarkable act in a remarkable life. Cyprian was born in Spain but went to Mexico when he was 23 years old. There he had two uncles. Cyprian planned to live with, and study under, one of them who was the Prior of an Augustinian monastery. His voyage from Spain to Mexico proved to be quite perilous and in one grave emergency Cyprian vowed that he would, if spared, train for the priesthood and then devote his life to the sick and poor. He began a nursing career informally whilst still in priestly training and showed a great natural talent for this vocation. After his ordination as a priest Father Cyprian was appointed to Guadalajara where he combined the roles of parish priest, missionary and social worker to such good effect that the whole city was considered to have been transformed by his ministry.

His mission in Guadalajara complete, Father Cyprian returned to Mexico City, intending to become a Brother of St. John of God. However, the Viceroy begged him to postpone this move and take over a run-down parish instead. This he did, finding time to raise funds and build an orphanage before handing over to the Benedictines when they came to Mexico. Once more he asked permission to enter the Order and once more he was obliged to take a different path. This time he was sent to evangelise the wild and warlike Chichimecas (a range of semi-nomadic peoples who inhabited the north of modern-day Mexico and southwestern United States). He was successful in training and converting them and, whilst doing so, discovered two deposits of silver. He prepared plans for a settlement in a place that he named Monterey before surrendering his mission to the Franciscans and his plans to the Viceroy. Finally, aged 76, he fulfilled his dream and donned the habit of a Saint John of God novice. In the same year he made profession and in 1614 he died.

1615: A second foundation was made at Vienna in the old German Empire. In 1614 the Brothers had purchased a house and garden which they converted into a twelve-bed, twelve-Brother hospital. Soon afterwards Archduke Maximillian Ernest became very seriously ill and his doctor was preparing to amputate one of his arms which had become badly swollen. Then Brother Gabriel Ferrara was called in for a consultation and he vehemently opposed amputation. Instead, he took the patient into his own care and brought about his complete recovery – saving his arm in the process. Deeply grateful, the Archduke founded a new hospital and gave it to the Order. This hospital later became the mother-house of the St. Michael Province of Germany, sometimes known as the Province of Vienna.

1619: The brother of Archduke Maximillian, Archduke Ferdinand, became Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II in 1619. Ferdinand II had become a close personal friend of Brother Gabriel and a generous benefactor of the Order. The patronage of the Emperor enabled Brother Gabriel to found 22 hospitals in his dominions (which, besides Austria, included Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Croatia etc. The contributions of Brother Gabriel to surgery were not limited to his surgical skills. He also taught young Brothers and was the author of a famous, three-part, text book on surgery, one part of which was devoted to dentistry. In 1614 he had become Vicar General of all hospitals of the Italian Congregation outside Italy itself. He carried out this office from Vienna where he remained until his death in 1627. The Brothers in the German Province came to have a popular name: "Barmherzige Brüder" (Brothers of Mercy).

1621: A General Chapter of the Italian Congregation reviewed and settled some doubts with regard to its prevailing (1616) Constitutions which "complemented perfectly" the 1611 Spanish Constitutions. The taking of the four vows had been reintroduced in the Italian Congregation. These Constitutions continued basically unchanged for three centuries, although some of its provisions gradually fell into disuse. A substantial difference between the Spanish and Italian Constitutions was the amount of space devoted to the care of the sick. The Spanish Constitutions gave little attention to this, whereas the Italian Constitution carried nine sections under the general heading "On hospitality".

The General Chapter of 1621 showed that the Italian Congregation was flourishing, with Provinces established in Rome, Naples, Sicily and Milan and hospitals in France, Austria and Poland. In France a particularly significant step had been taken with the opening of a hospital for the mentally ill in 1617. Although the Brothers always had a special concern for persons who were mentally ill, this hospital was the first in which the Brothers made special provision for mentally ill patients. By the time of the French Revolution the Order had eleven such hospitals in France alone.

Against this flourishing background, the Italian Brothers wanted to regain the status of a religious Order. Pope Paul V granted their wish, issuing a brief, which also began with the words "Romanus pontifex", on 13 February 1617. Religious who had already taken the fourth vow were left free to take the other three vows if they so wished. Newcomers were required to take all four solemn vows - poverty, chastity, obedience and hospitality. "Romanus pontifex" was renewed on 16 March 1619 with a new provision that released the Brothers from the authority of local Bishops throughout the world. This was confirmed by Pope Urban VIII in 1624 in the brief "Sacrosanctum". At this time the Brothers in both Spain and Italy had regained their lost status as a religious Order. However they would remain separated in two congregations for a further two and a half centuries.

1620: The Spanish Congregation had also continued to expand. Chief amongst the factors that influenced this was the general situation of the country and the part played by armed conflict in its history. The resistance of Spain to Muslim occupation and its efforts to expel the Moorish invaders kept Spain in a continual state of war for eight centuries. Because of the earlier involvement of the Brothers with the armies of Don John of Austria and their general reputation for excellence in medicine and surgery, they continued to serve as a type of medical corps in many situations where Spain, and later Portugal, were involved in armed conflict on land and sea. War often brought epidemics in its train and Spain experienced twelve of these during the years when the Order was separated into two congregations. Some 200 Brothers lost their lives in these pestilences. The diligence and self-sacrifice of the Spanish Brothers brought an increasing number of hospitals under the banner of the Order. By 1620, their hospitals had become so numerous that Spain was divided into two Provinces, Andalusia and Castile. In the same year, the Latin American foundations of the Province were grouped into a General Commissariat because of the great expansion which had taken place in a region far removed from metropolitan Spain.

In Prague the Brothers built a hospital in a location where there had been a medieval hospital since the middle of the 14th century. Until 1790 this hospital would be the largest in Prague and provided clinical education for medicine students for many years. One student, a member of the Order, Brother Celestine Opitz became a Master of Surgery in 1842. On 7 February 1847 Brother Celestine Opitz was the first surgeon in Bohemia to apply ether narcosis. This first operation under anaesthesia was successful and brought great fame to the hospital. In 1866 Emperor Franz Joseph I awarded Brother Celestine the Knight’s Cross.
1621: In Portugal too the Brothers were required to provide medical services to the military. This year five Brothers were in an expedition sent to defend Brazil against the Dutch. In 1624, a further 22 Spanish and Portuguese Brothers made the journey and opened the first of several hospitals at Baia dos Santos in Brazil. Initially these were temporary field hospitals set up to support the Spanish and Portuguese troops, but they became permanent and continued after Portugal regained its independence, becoming part of the Province of Portugal and dependent on the Commissariat of the Portuguese Indies.

1625: The house at Montemor O Novo, Portugal, in which Saint John of God was born collapsed due to age and general deterioration. It had been used by the Brothers as a home for poor people since 1606. The demolished remnants of the home were replaced by a new, 20-bed hospital and church, The high altar of the Church was positioned over the site of the room in which the Saint was born, this having been transformed into a small chapel.

1629: Sometime before this year a change had taken place in the emblem of the Order. Initially the emblem of the Order was a representation of the pilgrim’s, or traveller’s staff, that John of God carried when making his rounds of both the city and the countryside. On the right hung a coin box with a cross engraved on the front; on the left hung a large basket of bread, meat and other commodities. The change was the substitution of the pomegranate for the staff. The pomegranate continues to be prominent in the iconography of the Order. The word pomegranate also means "Apple of Granada". It is the coat of arms of the municipality of Granada. In the emblem of the Order the pomegranate is surmounting by a cross which signifies the suffering to which the mission of the Order is directed. When, sometimes, a crown is associated with the pomegranate of the Order this recalls an honour bestowed on the Order by King Louis XIV of France who wanted thus to recognise the services rendered by the Order to France. The French hospitals of the Order were usually called "La Charité". Hence the Brothers in France were generally known as "Les Freres de la Charité" They kept that name until the time of the French Revolution. The English-speaking Provinces of the Order, being directly or indirectly descended from the French Province, often use the crown in their depiction of the pomegranate of the Order. It is the custom of the Order to allow a variety of depictions of the pomegranate. However, in 2010 the Order acted to register the pomegranate (coloured blue) with the Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union so that it could encourage the use of a common Order emblem throughout the world.

1630: This was a momentous year in the history of the Order. On 21 September 1630 Pope Urban VIII issued the brief "In sede principis apostolorum" which enabled the beatification of the Founder. The event was solemnly celebrated in the Church of St. John Calybita on the Tiber Island in Rome in the presence of Cardinal Ginetti, the Order’s Protector, and various other Cardinals. This joyful occasion was celebrated in all the Brothers’ hospitals but nowhere was there greater magnificence than in Paris where King Louis XIII, his Queen, Anne of Austria, and the Queen Mother, Maria de Médici, all took an active part in the celebrations. They were joined by all the ladies of the Court who served meals to the patients and some forty bishops led by Cardinals Richelieu and La Valette. This came only two years after the siege and capture of the French Port of La Rochelle in 1628, following which there was a terrible famine and an outbreak of plague. It was the first time the Brothers had formed a medical corps in France and they were given two hospitals by Louis XIII as a token of his gratitude. To deal with the plague, the Brothers increased the number of beds from 60 to 360. Eighteen of the twenty Brothers died but, when the call went out for replacements, there was no shortage of volunteers.

In Milan this year was also a year of disaster when the plague struck there and in the course of which fifteen Brothers perished. The Holy See prohibited the admission of novices in areas affected by the plague but, in 1632, the Brothers sought permission to reopen their novitiates in Milan and Florence, pointing out that most of the Brothers had died in five of the affected hospitals, making it impossible to fully sustain the work. In this historic year Brother Alonso Pabon was appointed Chief Surgeon of the Spanish Armada. He was the first Brother to hold this office but thereafter successive Brothers held the appointment until 1717, when it passed to a military doctor.
1634: The Spanish Congregation of Brothers maintained a Procurator General in Rome. A procurator general is the person responsible for representing the religious institute to the Holy See. Initially, the member of the Spanish Congregation who dealt with the Holy See on behalf of his confreres in Spain and the New World lived at the mother-house of the Italian Congregation, St. John Calybita, on the Tiber Island. In 1634 this office was confided to the Prior of Naples who was a member of the Italian Congregation. Confusion and conflict resulted from his decision to set up a residence in Rome, independent of the Italian General. The resulting disagreements were taken to Pope Urban VIII who issued the brief "Exponi nobis" to deal with the matter. He required the Brothers resident within the jurisdiction of the other Congregation, whether Italian or Spanish, to be subject to the Superior General of that Congregation. The subsequent peace was an uneasy one and lasted for the next 66 years until the Holy See permitted the Spaniards to set up the separate house in Rome that they wanted.

1635: From Poland, the Brothers reached Lithuania in 1635, when the Bishop of the Diocese invited them to Vilnius. He gave them a small hospice for sick priests, an adjoining chapel and some funds. The Brothers subsequently converted the hospice into a general hospital. Poland had been a Commissariat, or Vicariate General, since 1615. Now, with growth in Poland and foundations in Lithuania, the Province of Poland will be established in 1642, three years after the eleventh General Chapter of the Italian Congregation had promoted the French General Commissariat to the status of a full Province.

1636: Continued expansion of the Spanish Congregation in Latin America had led to subdivision into three Commissariats formed from the existing one: they were Terra Firma, Perú-Chile and New Spain. The Brothers also sought and obtained permission to take over an existing hospital in Buenos Aires, giving them their first foundation in Argentina. However, 1636 became a black year for the Brothers in the "New World" when three Brothers died at the hands of indigenous natives (usually referred to as ‘Indians’) in Brazil. Only one year later, two more Brothers were slain by Indians in Colombia. Worse carnage followed when a fleet of 40 ships left Lisbon carrying eight Brothers. By the time the convoy reached San Salvador an epidemic had claimed 3000 victims amongst those on board its ships and the Dutch had attacked the fleet. Three Brothers died on the voyage. When the fleet arrived in San Salvador, the Dutch attacked again, this time defeating the Spanish-Portuguese forces. The Dutch then sacked the town, attacking even the hospital where three more Brothers were killed.

1637: This year saw a Spanish Brother cast in a unique role when Sardinia came under attack from a fleet of 45 French ships commanded by the Archbishop of Bordeaux. There was a small community of Brothers on the island. They had arrived a year earlier and taken possession of an existing hospital. When the French attack became imminent the Viceroy consulted the Superior, Brother Justus. It was a wise choice because Brother Justus was the former Duke of Estrada who had had, in his own words, "forty years experience of war" before he began his novitiate in Rome. Reluctantly, Brother Justus became a member of the Viceroy’s Council of War with the ranks of "Lieutenant Captain General" and "Sergeant Major General". Brother Justus found time to plan both a successful defence of the island and a counter-attack. At the same time he organised his hospital to receive and care for an influx of wounded people and continued to carry out his normal hospital duties.

1638: At times the Papal Nuncio played a significant role in the affairs of the Spanish Province. Between 1608 and 1638, the Nuncio presided over the six-yearly General Chapter. In 1638, the newly elected Superior General needed all his tact to explain that the right to preside had now passed to him and that he wished to exercise that right.

1640: This year the Pope approved a new Constitution for the Spanish Congregation which had been drafted after the General Chapter of 1632. There were many points of difference from the 1611 Constitutions but they represented an evolution from the earlier model, rather than a change of direction. Whilst there were subsequent changes, these were minor, so the 1640 Constitution remained in effect throughout the life of the Spanish Congregation. It is interesting that two years notice of a Chapter had to be given, to allow time for the Portuguese and the three Spanish Commissariats of "the Indies" to receive notification. By 1640, Spain was in decline as a world colonising power and the King of Portugal waged a successful War of Independence which ended sixty years of Spanish rule. Some Brothers of Spanish origin were expelled from Portugal but, from then on, those who remained provided a medical corps for the Portuguese armies, just as they did for the armies of Spain. So far there were just two foundations in Portugal, at Montemor O Novo and Lisbon. Now began a period of expansion in which other foundations were added, including military hospitals whose administration was entrusted to the Brothers. As they were separated from the Spanish General, the Nuncio placed the Portuguese Brothers under the obedience of the Augustinian Provincial until the War of Independence ended.
On the other side of the world, the Spanish Brother’s small convalescent home at Bagumbaya, in the Philippines, had closed in 1621 and did not reopen until 1645. After the home first opened, in 1611, King Phillip III had issued decrees attempting to hand over the operation of existing hospitals to the Order. The first, dated 1617, refers to 10 Brothers "in the armed forces" who were being sent to the Philippines. There is no indication that these Brothers arrived. The second royal decree is dated 1626 but does not name the Brothers who were to be sent. Certainly Brothers had been prepared for the trip but other events intervened. Finally, in 1641, two Brothers were sent to the Philippines from New Spain and they wasted no time in setting up a ten-bed hospital at Cavite. In 1642 the Brothers were given responsibility for the Royal Hospital of Manila. In total, the Brothers operated at least four hospitals in Philippines including one on Cebu but by 1742 only two remained. The foundations had the status of a Vice-Commissariat which was always a dependency of New Spain (Mexico).
1644: At this time, a Superior General could not stand for re- election but, in 1644, twenty Capitulars petitioned the Nuncio asking that General Sanchez be allowed to serve a further term to provide continuity. The petition was declined but his successor, Brother Ordonez, ran into difficulties after introducing various constitutional measures in an arbitrary manner. So alarmed were his Brothers that they petitioned the Nuncio who, in 1647, deposed General Ordonez from office. Two years after this event, a Papal Brief amended three Articles of the 1640 Constitution, a significant change being the transfer of the election of Priors from the General Chapter to house Chapters.
1648: This year the Spanish Province faced one of its severest tests when plague struck again, principally affecting the regions of Andalusia, Murcia, and Valencia. Plague had been a regular visitor to Spain throughout the Order’s history and there are frequent reports of seven or eight Brothers dying in a single outbreak but, in the three years during which this plague was active, no fewer than 114 Brothers met their deaths, every one of them contracting the disease whilst selflessly caring for other victims.
1652: There was a severe set-back for the Italian Congregation around this time because rulings of Pope Innocent X contained in a general instruction of 1652 and in the brief "Ut in parvis" of 1654 which were improperly applied to the Order. The effect was to close down 16 small hospitals which could not meet the requirement of the brief that a religious community consist of "at least six monks, at least four of whom are priests". Larger congregations survived because the requirement for priests was not applied where there were more than 12 brothers in a community. Pope Alexander VII reaffirmed the brief with "Cum sicut" in 1658 but by then the situation for the 16 hospitals was irretrievable.
1653: By the time the Italian Congregation held its General Chapter in 1653, the Congregation had reached its peak of seven Provinces; Rome, Naples, Milan, Sicily, Bari, Calabria-Basilicata and the Commissariat of Sardinia. The Provinces of France, Poland and Germany were also represented, the latter being promoted from a Commissariat at this Chapter. It seems that growth had been accompanied by some laxity in dress for the Italian General found it necessary to complain that, whilst all wore the habit, "everyone is dressed differently" in regard to colour and material used. During the Chapter, the Congregation named four locations at which novices would undergo their initial formation: Rome, Milan, Naples and Bari. Before then, novices had been admitted to any house considered suitable for training. The Province of Calabria-Basilicata, mentioned here, has a brief history. It may have been created at the Chapter of 1647 and lasted no more than 15 years. It had 5 hospitals which were subsequently assigned to the Provinces of Naples and Bari.
1656: More setbacks occurred when Poland was invaded by Barbarians from the north and east and a number of cities were sacked. The Brothers’ hospital in Lublin was burned down, several patients were killed and only one Brother survived, having been left for dead with severe head wounds. In Warsaw too there was but one wounded survivor. Although a second Brother was still alive after torture he was taken away and never seen again. At Lowicz the story was the same: The hospital, monastery and church were all burned down and the badly wounded Prior was the only survivor.Also in 1656 Rome once more fell victim to plague. Before the plague was properly identified, the early victims had been treated at the Tiber Island hospital where they died. When the alarm was raised, the authorities decided that the whole Island would be an isolation hospital. When this happened, from time to time, the city authorities erected gates on the two bridges that led onto the Tiber Island. At the end of the outbreak, a year later, six Brothers had died, four of them novices.
1659: The General Chapter of the Italian Congregation in 1659 elevated the communities and works in Sardinia to the status of a Province. Soon afterwards, in 1662, the Italian Congregation made its first foundation on the soil of modern Germany when it opened its hospital in Regensburg, Bavaria. Growth was slow; it was to be another 88 years before a second house was founded and a further century passed before the Order really flourished in that land.
1664: Francis Camacho entered the Order in Lima, Peru. He was born in Andalusia, Spain, in 1629 and left home at 15 to enter the service of a farmer. Away from parental control, Francis stopped practising religion and, after a few years farming, became a soldier. His life had many parallels with that of Saint John of God. Like the Founder before him, he narrowly escaped execution when he was convicted of a crime and sentenced, but was then reprieved for lack of evidence. He volunteered for service in South America. As soon as he reached New Cartagena he became seriously ill and was nursed by the St. John of God Brothers there. He was given a year’s leave to fully recover and spent the time exploring. He returned to an administrative post in which he proved so outstandingly capable that he was appointed administrator of the royal domain in Copacabana. He was, however, harsh in his dealings with slave labourers and was forced to resign from the army to avoid open rebellion. He moved to Lima where he underwent a dramatic religious conversion after hearing a sermon preached in the market square. The parallels with the life of Saint John of God continued for he now spent a time in the local asylum. Discharged from there, he sought to serve God in some humble way. He was directed towards the St. John of God Brothers who had nursed him earlier but whom he had forgotten. He was admitted to the Order at the Lima hospital at the age of 35. After profession he was appointed alms collector. When he began the task funds were very low, but his skills and his great energy combined to bring him such success that the Brothers were able to sort out their own affairs and help others also. Towards the end of his life Francis became bedridden as a sufferer from dropsy. He died in 1698.
Also in 1664, the Prior General of the Spanish Congregation reached agreement with the General of the Minim Brothers that the sacred remains of St. John of God would be transferred from their resting place in the Church of St. Mary of Victory, to the church of the Founder’s hospital in Granada. In 1668, the same General arranged an alliance of the Congregation with the Dominican Order. This ‘twinning’ gained the Brothers various grants and spiritual benefits.
1665: Pope Alexander VII took the unusual step of appointing the Italian Prior General before the Chapter was held. Although this was unusual it was not unique because, in 1659, he had appointed the General and two General Councillors and then, after what has been described as a "Pro-Chapter General" at which no elections were held, the Pope also appointed seven Provincials.
In 1668, the Calabrian Province ceased to exist; thereafter there were six Provinces in the Italian Congregation. In the same year, the Prior General once more found it necessary to draw attention to the need for the religious habits worn by the Brothers to be of one design and colour - the black and white stripes. Apparently habits of brown, black and grey colours were being worn.
There were further consequences to the 1665 appointment of Prior General Angelico Rampollo when, in 1671, Pope Clement X confirmed him in office for a further term, again without election. This was contrary to the latter’s wishes for he was now 85 years old and he died in 1675. The problems continued when the First General Councillor became Vicar General and the Second Councillor disputed his right to do so, alleging legal incapacity.
This dispute was determined by a Papal brief but the stage was set for a lively General Chapter in 1677. In the interim the Vicar General had sought the aid of King Charles II of Spain, through the Spanish Procurator General. As a consequence, the King decreed that, "within his dominions", which included the Italian Provinces of Naples, Milan and Sicily, no Superiors would be accepted who were not "vassals of his crown".
There were also more covert attempts at subverting the normal selection process, so much so that the Pope felt the need to intervene and permitted the election of the General from a list of only five candidates who were considered untouched by the factional disputes. Happily, the Chapter itself, which began in such a turbulent atmosphere, ended with harmony and peace, and a choice of a Prior General who also pleased King Charles II.
1671: Although the events which followed the 1671 Italian General Chapter and led to the Intervention of the Spanish King, Charles II, had little effect on the Spanish Congregation, that Congregation also held its (12th) General Chapter in the same year. It took place, as usual, in Madrid. The war of independence had ended six years earlier so it was legally possible now to set up the Province of Portugal, which had eight existing hospitals.
A year earlier, the Spanish tradition of maritime exploration had been further enhanced when Isidorus de Otondo led the fleet which discovered and colonised California. The Surgeon to the Fleet was one of several Brothers who travelled with the expedition to tend the sick and wounded. The new Province lost little time in showing its mettle.
1681: The Spanish Brothers had been regular visitors to Africa from 1573 onwards in the familiar role of medical corpsmen. However, throughout the period of separation, the Congregation established only one permanent foundation on the continent, in Mozambique. This came about in 1681, when the King of Portugal gave the Brothers the city hospital. The hospital became the novitiate house and was also the first seat of the Commissioner General for the East Indies. Because of its strategic location the house became the departure point for Portuguese Brothers travelling to India. In 1685, they began the first of four foundations in the sub-continent at Goa which, in 1693, became the mother house of the vast Commissariat of the East Indies which took in Mozambique and Brazil as well as India.
From this year, for the next three hundred years, a notable feature of the structure of the hospital of the Order on the Tiber Island was the arrangement of the main ward, called the Sala Assunta. At one end of the ward there was an altar on which a priest celebrated Mass every morning for the patients who, in many cases, remained in their beds. There were many patients who found hope and demonstrated their holiness in the face of suffering and death in the Sala Assunta. Amongst them was Blessed Ceferino Namumcurà who died in 1905 after a short hospitalisation on the Tiber Island.
1683: In the north of Europe wars with the Turks were having a profound influence on the affairs of the Italian Congregation. During the siege of Vienna in 1683, the Brothers had been forced to leave their hospital because it was situated outside the city walls (the hospital was destroyed in the conflict but was rebuilt later).
1684: The following year, on the orders of Pope Innocent XI, the Brothers operated a field hospital that followed the progress of the Christian militia. For six weeks the hospital was based in Buda. Then the Christians were routed and a number of Brothers were killed. Two years later, it was the Turks who were in retreat and the field hospital and the Brothers were once more located in the town. When the neighbouring city of Pest was cleared, the Brothers opened a hospital there, but they were forced to leave two years later when the land was given to the Sisters of Mary.
1685: Statistics drawn up in this year showed that the Spanish and Italian Provinces together operated a total of 223 hospitals, with 5,422 beds and 83,264 admissions during the year. Of these totals, the 695 Italian Brothers operated 66 hospitals with 1032 beds. For the Italian Congregation, expansion took place mainly in Europe but France, like Spain, was a maritime nation and, in 1685, King Louis XIV sent four Brothers from the Paris Charité Hospital to the Antilles in the Caribbean. On arrival, they were given responsibility for the 12 bed hospital of Basse Terre in Guadalupe. A year later, ten more Brothers took over a 60 bed hospital on Martinique. Four more hospitals were added over the next fifty years, bringing the Brothers also to the Islands of Santo Domingo and Grenada.
1688: From this year on, various requests were passed to the Portuguese government for Brothers to be sent to the hospital in Luanda, Angola. These approaches were always turned down at the request of the treasury.
1690: The 15th General Chapter of the Spanish Congregation had been due for convocation in the year 1686. The fifteenth Chapter very nearly did not take place. It had been customary to hold the Chapter in Madrid but the General ordered that this Chapter be held in Granada. The Nuncio ordered him to hold the Chapter in Madrid as usual. However, the General refused, claiming his right under the Constitutions to decide the venue of the Chapter. Once more the Nuncio ordered him to comply. On the appointed day, the capitulars arrived – but some arrived in Madrid and others in Granada. The Nuncio suspended the proceedings and informed the Holy See. The Court of the Nunciature excommunicated the General and suspended him from taking any further part in the proceedings. The General in turn suspended those Brothers in dissent and the Secretary General from office. The conflict was finally resolved in Rome and the Chapter was held in 1690 - in Madrid.

1690: This year saw the canonisation of Saint John of God, authorised by Pope Innocent XII by means of the bull "Rationi congruit".

1700: As the 18th century opened, the Polish Province made its first foundation in white Russia, when it took over an existing hospital at Minsk. In the same year the War of Succession began between Phillip V and Charles of Austria. It lasted from 1700 to 1714. During this time, changes took place in military organisation which affected the medical corps structure and led to the Brothers being "gradually forced back into their hospitals". The military activities of Spain and Portugal had long caused difficulties for the Brothers. The War of Independence had lasted for 25 years and this new struggle for the Spanish throne brought fresh trials. In 1704, Portugal entered the conflict, supporting the Hapsburgs against Spain. As a result, relations between the two countries were severed so that Portuguese vocals were unable to attend the 1707 Chapter in Madrid. For similar reasons, the Italian Congregation held its 21st General Chapter in the same year, three years later than normal, owing to the difficulty of getting Brothers from Poland and Germany to the Chapter. In 1708, Pope Clement XI named a new Provincial for Portugal and in 1710, when his term was due to end, the Provincial was authorised to call a Provincial Chapter under the Presidency of the Nuncio. Although the War of Succession had ended, these trials led the Portuguese Province, in 1717, to seek autonomy as a way of eliminating the problems. However, their petition to the Holy See was denied.
The War had brought tension to the Spanish Congregation since the Brothers themselves became factionalised, most supporting the Bourbon claim but some favouring the Hapsburgs. The situation was aggravated by the prolonged separation from the disciplined monastic life which many Brothers experienced whilst working in field hospitals. The problems came to a head after the 21st General Chapter of the Congregation in 1724. By special dispensation, the General was elected for a third term. There were those who considered the postwar laxity amongst Brothers was attributable to the General. They appealed to the Nuncio who took their complaint to King Phillip V. The General was suspended and exiled. A number of other Pro-Hapsburg Brothers fled to Rome, fearing a similar fate.
1710: In Poland the Order established a hospital at Wroclaw (known then to German speakers as Breslau).
1713: Despite the problems of holding Chapters at this time, the government and structure of the Congregations continued to be developed and refined. The 22nd General Chapter of the Italian Province, held in 1713, approved a number of changes, one of the most significant being that Provincial Chapters would be held individually in each Province. Hitherto, the practise defined in the 1616 Constitutions had been for Provincials and Priors to be elected at the Intermediate Chapter. Even before 1713, the requirements of the Constitution had been modified in practice, with Inter-Provincial Chapters being held in Rome and Naples, whilst Sicily held a separate Chapter.
1715: This year brought a fresh reminder of the dangers inherent in missionary work when a Brother was martyred in the Philippines where two more deaths of Brothers occurred before 1731.
1716: Louisburg, Novia Scotia, is a Canadian city with a chequered history in which its occupation oscillated between France and England. In 1716, while Louisburg was under French rule, a community of Brothers took over a military hospital in the city, thus making the first foundation of the Order in Canada.
1721: The 23rd General Chapter of the Italian Congregation was again late. At this Chapter the Augustinian leather cincture became a compulsory item of dress for the Brothers. Before this, some Provinces had adopted silken or woollen sashes.
1730: This was a year in which plague struck once again. The Brothers hospital in Cadiz admitted 756 victims of "black vomiting", 246 of whom died. Ten Brothers also lost their lives.
1731: The Brothers of the Italian Province were able to return to the city of Pest. They took charge of a home for 2000 war invalids which had been built a year earlier. The home continued to care for such people for the next 50 years, at which time Emperor Joseph II closed it and the Brothers had to leave the city once more. Emperor Joseph II objected to the dioceses and religious institutes of his domains being subject to outside authorities – by decree Austrian bishops could not communicate directly with the Roman Curia. More than 500 religious houses in Austro-Slav lands, and 100 more in Hungary, were dissolved. The education of priests was taken from the Church as well, with Joseph establishing six state-run "General Seminaries".
1738: The Spanish General Chapter decided on a process known as "Alternative" whereby the General was chosen sequentially from the Provinces of Granada, Castile and Seville. The new Constitution for the Congregation was ratified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1741. It made provision for special houses to be set up at which the Brothers would be taught "Grammar", which was actually general education to an advanced level to prepare them for entry to a university where they would study philosophy, medicine and surgery. Amongst religious Orders, this line of further education was unique to the brothers of Saint John of God Brothers and a further example of their willingness to be innovative and never satisfied merely to follow established practice. This characteristic of the Brothers was further highlighted in the same year with the publication of a short treatise on nursing. Written by the Portuguese Novice Master, it was probably the first book on this subject in the Portuguese language.
1745: Philip della Valle had completed a marble sculpture depicting Saint John of God with a sick man. It was placed in one of the great niches of the Vatican Basilica of St. Peter. Although external influences had separated the followers of Saint John of God into two separate congregations, the caption below the statue refers to “The Universal Order of Saint John of God”.
1747: The Italian Congregation began work in Czechoslovakia in 1747, whilst the same year saw the division of the Spanish Province of Andalusia into two Provinces: Granada and Seville. By this time, the three Provinces of Metropolitan Spain had 661 Brothers operating 60 hospitals. The establishment of a new foundation in Rio de Janeiro, in 1752, would bring the total number of hospitals opened by the Order in the New World to 90. They were operated by 718 Brothers and divided into four Commissariats: Peru and Chile, Tierra Firme (Central America and Colombia), Nuova Espana, which took in all of Mexico, California, New Mexico, Cuba and Brazil, which had its Mother House at Goa, in India.
1757: The church of Saint John of God was inaugurated in Granada. Some 160 years later Pope Benedict XV would elevate it to the status a minor Basilica. The Church had been mooted earlier when the remains of St. John of God were re-buried. The driving force behind the new edifice was Father Alonso de Jesús y Ortega, who prepared the plans whilst he was Prior of Granada. He subsequently became Superior General and then carried the work through without regard for expense and drawing on a family inheritance, commissioning works from a number of famous artists and sculptors.
1763: The history of the Brothers involvement in Mozambique was not always a happy one. In 1763, the administration of the hospital was taken from them although they remained as nurses. This caused a public outcry which led to the reinstatement of the Brothers as administrators with increased funding. Thereafter, however, the decline resumed so that, by the early 19th century, what had once been a fine, 100-bed hospital and novitiate house, was being described as "more a prison for violent patients than a hospital for the sick".
1765: An epidemic of smallpox struck Chile. It came under control thanks largely to the work of Brother Manuel Chaparro, a graduate of Santiago University. He introduced into Chile the method of inoculation which preceded Edward Jenner’s discovery of vaccination. Brother Manuel had never seen the method used because it was commonly ignored even in Europe and he had only read about it. Over a seven-year period, he inoculated more than 10,000 people, only four of whom died, in each case through specific illnesses which they had already contracted.
1766: The 30th General Chapter of the Italian Congregation determined that each Province should establish a foundation which would provide courses of study for young Brothers in surgery and ethics.
1777: Around this time the German Emperor, Joseph II, issued a series of repressive laws which became known collectively as "Josephism". They affected even Lombardy, as the Bourbon States of Italy quickly adopted similar legislation. Joseph II was determined to reform the Catholic Church. One of his most important measures being the total suppression of contemplative Orders. He did not disband the teaching and nursing Orders but they were forbidden to maintain contact with their houses or superiors abroad. The effect was to cut off four Italian Provinces from direct obedience to the Prior General, those remaining being Rome and Sardinia. As a result, a new Province came into being. It was the German Province "Per Imperium", commonly known as the Bavarian Province, which incorporated all the hospitals of the Brothers in Bavaria, Baden, Silesia, Westphalia and the Palatinate, and had its mother house in Munich. There, the Brothers felt able to "breathe and work more easily". There was a further consequence in 1794 when the Austro-Hungarian Brothers produced their own Constitutions which did away with 10 chapters, dropped all reference to the Prior General and incorporated 17 of the decrees of the Emperors.
1781: The 26th Chapter of the Spanish Congregation was held and, for the first time, the Prior General was elected on the "Alternative" system, the method agreed upon in 1738. In this system the Prior General was chosen from each of the Spanish Provinces in turn. Portugal was not included in the rotation. The same Chapter determined to establish an Inter-Provincial Residency at Alcalá, for students who were attending the university there. The residency was opened, but lasted only a few years before students were diverted to other cities.
In the same year, the Italian Prior General, Leopold Banfi, was retired to Hilan by the direct order of Pope Pius VI. This followed a Papal Audience with three Brothers which resulted in discrete enquiries being made into his behaviour. The General had adopted the practise of providing indiscriminate and lavish hospitality at the Hospital of St. John Calybita , on the Tiber Island. The hospitals economic woes were nothing new but undoubtedly the generosity of the General contributed to them and he paid little attention to "the complaints of his monks".
1785: When the next General Chapter was convoked for 1785 Prior General Banfi he did not attend. Also the Provinces of Milan, France, Germany and Poland were not represented. Germany and Poland were under the oppressive regime of Joseph II; Poland, which included Lithuania, was on the decline that led to its extinction following the division of the nation between Russia, Prussia and Austria. France was in a desperate economic plight, with the first rumblings of revolution in the air. At this Chapter, the Lombardy and Venice Province determined that the habit would only be given to people who had a "special vocation" for the Institution and who could cope with studies in medicine, surgery, pharmacy and accounting.
1790: By the time the 34th General Chapter was held in Italy in 1790, only the Rome and Sardinian Provinces were able to attend. "Josephism" had a flow-on effect when Ferdinand IV published a similar edict in 1788, the effect of which was to remove the Provinces of Sicily and Naples from the authority of the Congregation.
1789: For both the Spanish and Italian Congregations, the closing years of the century were dominated by political developments in France. In May 1789, the French Revolution broke out and, in the following year, monastic Orders were suppressed. Property was confiscated and the monks were imprisoned, exiled or killed. By this time, the 350 Brothers of the French Province operated 39 hospitals with 5000 beds, including those in the West Indies and Canada. From the start of the revolution, "inspectors" had been sent to la Charité hospital in Paris. Their reports always approved the work of the Brothers and even Voltaire praised them as "the only useful monks". In spite of this the Brothers were not exempt from the dissolution order, although many remained at their posts, working as nurses or orderlies.
1792: In this year the Republic was proclaimed in France and a year later King Louis XVI was executed. In that same year, Spain joined the first European League against revolutionary France. The General of the Spanish Congregation personally offered the services of his Brothers to the King of Spain. In all, seven groups were sent, totalling 50 Brothers, and all survived, although the monetary cost to the Congregation was considerable.
1794: This year an infectious disease broke out on board a ship laden with French prisoners. The vessel dropped anchor at Malaga, Spain. When attempts to set up an isolation unit on land failed, the infected men were left on board and abandoned. The Brothers heard of this and offered to nurse the men on board. This they did. It took three months for the disease to run its course and disappear but, during all this time, none of the Brothers contracted the disease.
At the 28th General Chapter of the Spanish Congregation the 21st Prior General of the Spanish Congregation, Brother Augustín Pérez de Valladolid, completed nine years as General of the Congregation and was then unanimously elected General for life. Authority for this move came from Pope Pius VI on 12 September 1794 but the initiative had come from King Charles IV. In the same year the Italian Congregation held its 35th General Chapter. Father Benedict Maria Romilini was elected General, a post he held until his death in 1810. The Roman historian described the situation of the Congregation as one of "total eclipse, one which had lost its most flourishing Provinces, during times of the fiercest persecution of the Church, of the total dissolution of all monastic orders and their impending total suppression". The Pope had gone into exile and died "and Rome, from being the Capital of Catholicism had become the seat of Freemasonry, but, nonetheless, Prior General Benedict managed to steer the ship with a master’s hand". The Chapter also created the Provincial Vicariate of Lithuania, which incorporated hospitals that Russia had separated from Poland a year earlier.
1797: French forces began to occupy the Papal States. They reached Rome in 1798 where they arrested and deported Pope Pius VI and proclaimed the Roman Republic. This lasted only until Neapolitan troops freed the city eighteen months later. A few months later, Napoleon was proclaimed "First Consul" and once more took command of the French Forces in Italy.

1800: This year Pope Pius VII was elected in Venice and soon moved to Rome. In the following year, a treaty between France and Austria left the Papal States free under the new Pope.
The incursions of the French added yet another burden to Prior General Romilini’s already formidable list because, as happened often during conflicts in Europe, the Brothers themselves became factionalised and some left to serve the French.
As if the military situation was not enough, the nineteenth century opened with a series of epidemics in Spain, Portugal and Italy. Yellow fever struck with such ferocity that 80,000 people died in Andalusia alone, in a single three-month period. In all, the fever raged for several years and many Brothers died. In the year that yellow fever first struck, 1800, there was also an outbreak of typhus in the town of Ceuta, Morocco. Of the twenty Brothers there, thirteen contracted the disease whilst attending its victims and all died.
Whilst events in Europe had so far not engulfed that most Catholic of countries, Spain, the Congregation suffered a significant blow from a Brief issued by Pope Pius VII in 1804. The Brief responded to a petition initiated by the Brothers in the Indies and passed on by King Charles IV of Spain. The Brothers, without reference to the Spanish General, requested autonomy for their three Commissariats and their elevation to the status of Provinces. With the approval given, the Provinces of New Spain and Terra Firma held their Chapters immediately. Peru-Chile was less enthusiastic about the break and did not hold its Chapter until 1816, having remained obedient to the Father General until that date.
The regime of Austrian Emperor Joseph II had separated the Brothers in Germany and Austria from Rome, and brought into being the Bavarian Province. It created further havoc when, in 1805, the three hospitals in Prussia were separated from those in Bavaria and Baden. Being unable to unite with Venice, they formed themselves into the Silesian Province, a situation which survived only until Religious Orders were suppressed under Napoleonic rule.
1804: With France under his authority, Napoleon had embarked on a lightning conquest of Europe, a course which, within a few years, brought Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland under French domination. In 1804, he became Emperor of France and was crowned by Pope Pius VII in Paris.
1805: Napoleon was proclaimed "King of Italy". In the same year he invaded the Papal States again and by 1808 Rome was once more under his occupation with Pope Pius VII in exile. During this "imperial" occupation, as with the earlier "republican" occupation, the French treated the Fatebenefratelli (as the Brothers in Italy were known) with respect, exempting them from many repressive laws, including general suppression decrees which were made in Lombardy, the Kingdom of Italy, in 1805 and 1810, although they were included in the latter to the extent that they were forbidden to wear the habit. Their special status was largely due to the influence of Prior General Benedict who was so respected by the French Commander that he was able to act as the intermediary between Pope Pius VII and the French, before the Pope was deported.
1807: When the troops of Napoleon entered Northern Spain the Spanish Congregation was flourishing. By 1810 the whole country was overrun, Charles IV was forced to renounce his throne and religious Orders were suppressed by decree. The Prior General of the Spanish Congregation died just days before this decree was issued.

1810: This year, the Papal States also came under a general suppression order which included the Fatebenefratelli. Even so, the Brothers continued to be treated respectfully and retained some responsibility in many hospitals and for the provision of other welfare services. Their hospital on the Tiber Island was also saved for the Congregation when a decision to sell it was sidestepped through the friendship between the Prior General and the French Governor.
A year earlier, despite the continuing regime of Napoleon, Brother Hubert Mandbuist made an attempt to restore the Order in France. It was unsuccessful. However, Napoleon’s regime was drawing to a close. He suffered his first defeat in Russia at the end of 1812 and successive defeats led to his abdication in 1814. Soon afterwards the Pope returned to Rome. Napoleon had a brief resurgence when he returned to France in 1815 and the Pope was forced once more to leave Rome for a short time until Napoleon suffered his final defeat and exile at the hands of the British.
1814: The countries that had suffered the domination of Napoleon began to recover themselves. In Italy the Brothers were free once more to wear their habit. A decree of 1814 also returned to them such hospitals as remained in the State’s possession, unsold. Even so, the situation of the Province of Bari proved irretrievable. It had been formed in 1621 by six hospitals taken from the Province of Naples. Now the situation was reversed and its five remaining hospitals were annexed to the Province of Naples. All the Provinces of the Italian Congregation, now numbering five, began a promising recovery. There was a new surge of life and vocations increased particularly when the Provinces of the Kingdom of the two Sicilies, Sicily and Naples, returned to the jurisdiction of the Prior General in 1818 and Lombardy followed.
1816: The Italian General Chapter was held in 1816. It raised Lithuania to the status of a Province, a situation which lasted less than 30 years before, in 1831, it was suppressed by Russia and disappeared entirely by 1844. In Spain, the son of Charles, Ferdinand VII, assumed the throne and issued a new decree restoring Religious Orders. It was then possible to hold the 29th General Chapter of the Congregation – 19 years after the previous – 28th – General Chapter. When the Austrian government was restored, a declaration was made in 1816 which forbad the Brothers to teach medicine, surgery and pharmacy. The effect was to force them to gain their qualifications in public institutions. This led to the opening of a hospital in Padua, so that Brothers could attend the university there. Nursing was never included in the embargo and later decrees by Emperor Francis I reduced the harshness of the original decree.
1820: For the Spanish Congregation, the calm which followed the abdication of Napoleon lasted a mere six years before the King, under pressure from the new Government of Freemasons, once more suppressed those monasteries with fewer than 24 monks and no new vocations were to be accepted. As a result, the Brothers of Saint John of God were forced to abandon nearly all their hospitals. It was the same year in which the Congregation withdrew from their hospital at Cago in Argentina – thus terminating their presence in that country. Before the Spanish government was overthrown, the King himself was imprisoned. However he was eventually freed and, in 1823, again repealed the bans. This enabled the 30th General Chapter to be held in 1824. For the first time Seville was the chosen venue, the General Definitory having taken itself there to be away from the political strife.
In France, restoration of the monarchy had not led to immediate restoration of the Order but Brother Eliseo Talochon had remained loyal to the executed Louis XVI and followed the Royal Princes in their wanderings through Europe, continuing to use his religious title. With the monarchy restored he returned to France and became the chief surgeon to the King with an apartment in the Tuileries Palace. He received both French and Russian decorations.
182): In France Paul de Magallon made the first move which led to the restoration of the Order in that country. In this he was encouraged by Xavier Tissot who had read about Saint John of God during his novitiate as a Trappist. Tissot’s own efforts at restoring certain hospitals only had limited success.
Paul de Magallon was born at Aix in 1784. His father was Attorney-General in the government of Provence and his mother was the daughter of the Marquis of Argens. The death of his father when Paul was six months old left the family in straitened circumstances and the outbreak of the French Revolution brought fresh suffering. Most of their property was confiscated and they were in continual fear for their lives. The family became separated but Mme. de Magallon managed to reunite it at Berlin. Paul joined the German army and was commissioned an officer. After the Peace of Tilsett in 1807, he returned to France, seeking a post and entering Parisian society. Although personally popular, he was unsuccessful in finding a "good position". He joined a lay organisation which restored regularity to his neglected religious practice. For a year he worked as a teacher before receiving a commission in a famous French regiment with which he saw action until taken prisoner in Russia. With Napoleon’s demise, Paul was released and returned to Paris on foot. Following Napoleon’s escape from Elba, Paul saw further service with the Royalist forces and was wounded.
With peace restored, Paul began studying for the priesthood. His studies were well advanced when he began to doubt his vocation and he left the seminary to go to Marseilles. There, on one occasion, he noticed some men begging for provisions for the sick. He learned they were voluntary nurses who had formed themselves into a religious community which they were calling "The Infirmarian Brothers". He joined their ranks. As the community grew it asked for, and was given, permission to adopt the Rule and the habit of the Brothers of Saint John of God. The Bishop of Marseilles approved them as a religious body and Paul became their Superior. Later, difficulties arose between the Brothers and the administrators of the hospital. They decided to withdraw from the hospital and opened their own at Lozere.
1822: To develop their religious life further, "The Infirmarian Brothers" community corresponded with the Prior General asking to affiliate with the St. John of God Brothers. This was approved in 1822 and Paul and three of his Brothers travelled to Rome where they served a short novitiate. The Province of France was then created with the psychiatric hospital of St. Peter and Paul in Lyons as its mother house. The first Chapter of the new Province elected Brother John of God Magallon as its Provincial. Under his leadership, two more hospitals were opened and a nursing home and, when financial difficulties arose, he made personal visits to the "crowned heads" of Germany and Austria to raise funds. He became Prior General in 1850 and died nine years later.
In 1822: An otherwise little known Brother Pharmacist named Ottavio Ferrario discovered the compound Iodoform. In the same year, he became the first person in Italy to extract quinine from Peruvian bark. The properties of the bark had long been known but hitherto all efforts to isolate the active constituents had failed. The discovery of Iodoform by Brother Ottavio was not generally acknowledged because, in the same year and month, it was discovered also by a Frenchman who usually receives the credit. In the same year, the varying dress habits of Brothers again called for comment by the Prior General and dark or black socks became prescribed wear.
1830: The Spanish Congregation held its 31st General Chapter, which turned out to be its last.
1831: This year a remarkable event took place which led to the restoration of the Order in Vienna. King Louis of Vienna was visiting the former hospital of the Brothers at Neuburg. The King noticed an old man wearing a tattered habit. He learned that the old man was Brother Ebhardus, the last survivor of the Hospitaller Order in that place. Brother Ebhardus had always defied the laws which forbad the wearing of religious habits and after a while, the new regime in the hospital had left him in peace, accepting him as an old crank, not worth bothering about. The King was distressed to realise that the Order which had done so much good would die out in his kingdom. He ordered that Brother Ebhardus be given the hospital. He accepted it in the name of the Order. This old man, who had expected that the Order would die with him, joyfully embarked on the task of restoring it in that place. He was able to obtain help from the Brothers in Vienna and together they re-established the Bavarian Province.
1832: Cholera appeared in Europe for the first time, seeming to have come from Asia. , having originated in Asia. Anti-clerical activists seized on this opportunity and accused the monastic Orders of bringing the disease to Europe and spreading the epidemic. This incitement of the people led to many acts of vandalism and murder against the monks. However, many testimonies remain to the good work of the Hospitaller Brothers in helping the victims.
1833: Ferdinand VII died and the anti-clericals were back in power. At its peak, the Spanish Congregation had 1360 Brothers operating 160 hospitals in nine Provinces: Granada, Castile, Seville, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and the Philippines. But now, Spain had lost its American colonies, the nation was split by civil war and financially ruined. Even so, and despite the suppressions of 1809 and 1820, the remaining Provinces of Granada, Seville and Castile could still muster 383 professed Brothers and novices, with the Portuguese Province functioning independently. With the death of Ferdinand VII, his three-year old daughter, Isabella II, ascended the throne and her mother was proclaimed Regent. Carlos, the brother of the late King, made an unsuccessful attempt to take the throne. Two years later, the five-year old Queen signed a decree which closed all religious houses that had fewer than twelve members. Those that remained could not take novices or wear the habit. The consequence for the Spanish Congregation was the loss of 57 hospitals; 52 in Spain, 3 in the Philippines and 2 in Cuba. Seven houses remained but a further decree, in 1836, brought about the total suppression of religious Orders. Only two hospitals survived briefly; Granada and Seville. In Portugal too, similar laws had been enacted in 1834, the bans extending to the colonies also. At first, the Brothers were able to continue providing medical aid to the military, despite reduced numbers, but this ceased when they were forced to abandon their hospitals. Thus, the four Provinces of the Iberian Peninsula and the four General Commissariats were completely wiped out.
1842: This year the Mme. Jeanne Jugan’s Community of Saint-Servan was affiliated to the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God for one hundred years. This community, known as the Little Sisters of the Poor, was then a mere three years old and consisted of the founder, Jeanne Jugan, four sisters and twelve persons in care. The privilege of affiliation is rarely bestowed, especially on such a young community, and is an indication of the esteem in which the work of Jeanne Jugan was held.
Jeanne had been a poor servant girl who took an old, sick, blind woman into her own poor hovel when no one else would accept her. She began her community in 1839 and, from the very first, she was befriended by the French Provincial, Father Felix Massot, and it was his support which enabled her to begin a home for poor, elderly people in the town of Dinan. In the years that followed, Jeanne Jugan received great recognition for her work, culminating in the approval of her congregation by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Throughout this period and beyond, Father Massot’s influence continued, to such extent that he drafted the Constitutions of the Sisters, based on those of his own Order, and the Sisters also adopted the Rule of St. Augustine. After 100 years, the affiliation was renewed indefinitely. Sister Jeanne Jugan would be beatified in 1982 and canonised in 2009.
1847: This was a vintage year for Brothers engaged in the healing arts. It was the time in which modern anaesthesia emerged. Ether was first used in 1846 and chloroform in the following year. In that same year Brother Celestine Opitz, after completing a number of experiments on animals and on himself, became the first Austrian surgeon to use narcotics during a major operation. Also in that year, Brother Prosdocimo Salario was made Director of the male section of the psychiatric hospital of St. Servolo, in the Venetian Lagoon. He quickly embarked on a programme of reorganisation which made the hospital a showpiece in its field. The particular contribution for which he is remembered was to combine bromine with quinine to unite the curative action of the two medicines. Bromide of Quinine became widely used in psychiatric therapy and the treatment of epilepsy. Brother Prosdocimo was also a pioneer of treatment of what is now called arthritis. Before he died in 1877, he had recorded his 30 years experience and clinical observations in minute detail in a work that occupied eight volumes.
1848: Ever since the fall of Napoleon, Italy had remained a conglomeration of tiny States. In 1848, a process of unification began through a series of wars which continued until 1870. By the end of that first year, the Pope had been forced to leave Rome and laws to suppress Religious Orders were introduced, first in Sardinia but gradually throughout the whole of Italy as various regions were annexed. At first, Orders dedicated to preaching, teaching and care of the sick were excluded. The defeat of Napoleon also enabled the German Province to return to the governance of the Prior General for the first time since the decrees of Emperor Joseph II had broken their ties. Thus, over the next few years, it was possible to revive Provinces or create them anew: Lombardy-Venice 1850, Bavaria 1851, Silesia 1853, Vienna 1854, Hungary 1856. In spite of the unfavourable political climate in Italy, the Fatebenefratelli continued their optimistic and innovative approach to their work. Following a canonical visit to the mother house of the Neapolitan Province in 1852, the Prior General decided that the Province needed its own school to teach medicine, surgery and pharmacy. As an inducement, he decreed that every Brother who achieved a first-class degree would receive the title, "Prior Ad Honorem".
1850: The anticlerical laws of the eighteenth century had annihilated the Order in Spain, Portugal, Latin America and the Philippines. Before he died in 1850, the last General of the Spanish Congregation, Brother Joseph Bueno Villagran, had written to the Italian General, Benedict Vemo, begging him to restore the Spanish Congregation as soon as circumstances allowed.
1853: On 13 November Brother John Grande was beatified by Pope Pius IX.
1856: The 43rd General Chapter of the Italian Province was held in 1856 and was, for the first time in many years, a truly international gathering. A decree of the Chapter laid down the uniformity of a black habit. The cowl was to be separate from the scapular in Italy but attached to it in the "Provinces beyond the mountains". This decree marked the end of a long road because the black habit had first made its appearance both in Italy and Spain before the end of the Seventeenth Century, despite an order of the General, dated 1683, which expressly banned it. This Chapter proved to be the last for 31 years, and the last of the Separate Italian Congregation, thanks largely to continuing wars in Europe and oppressive legislation in Italy.
1858: Another landmark in the development of the health care services of the Order occurred this year when a house was purchased on the Rue Lecourbe in Paris to accept children from poor families. It became the first hospital of the Order devoted to specialist orthopaedic care. It grew slowly, supported by the efforts of a committee of Parisian socialites, but it eventually housed several hundred children and provided a wide range of vocational training in addition to its orthopaedic work. Many of the qualified teachers had themselves been patients as children.
1859: In Austria the House of the Order at Graz was handed over to Brother Sigismund Schmid to conduct as a “Reform House”. Laws introduced by Emperor Joseph II in 1781 had brought about great confusion in the religious life in Austria and resulted eventually in a situation where "lack of discipline, lack of readiness to serve the sick and poor in the hospitals, lack of participation in common prayers etc." brought Brother Sigismund to propose the identification of a House in which the Brothers who opted to join that community would live a life that was more strictly observant and regulated than the rest of the Austrian Province. The reform proved a lasting one and eventually the House at Graz was the motherhouse of the Styrian Province which was established in 1879 with four hospitals and 70 Brothers. Brother Cassian Gasser became the first Provincial and was later elected Prior General of the Order.
1861: Brother Vemo’s successor as Prior General of the Italian Congregation, Brother Peter Paul Deidda, was able to take the first practical steps towards restoration of the Order in Spain. In 1861, after discussing the possibilities, the Procurator General, Brother John Mary Alfieri, wrote to the Pope, seeking authority to begin the restoration. In 1862, Brother Alfieri became the Prior General. He visited Spain in that year and again in 1866. In spite of the parlous situation of the Italian Congregation at this time, Brother Alfieri studied three other possibilities, including the use of the few Brothers who could still be found in the Philippines, before entrusting the mission to a newly-ordained, 26 year-old priest, Brother Benedict Menni.
This year saw the mother house of the Italian Congregation on the Tiber Island complete a programme of growth in facilities and services. At the time it was said to "combine all the successful experiments of the best European Hospitals".
1866: Italy, with the exception of Rome, was united by 1866 with Florence as the provincial national capital. Finally, in 1870, Rome was incorporated into the new nation and the new government was anti-clerical. The government applied previously enacted legislation that had suppressed many religious Orders so that their suppression became total. Brother Alfieri was the Italian Prior General at the time and was unable have the Fatebenefratelli exempted. He urged the Brothers to remain at their posts which they mostly did, as members of a "lay hospitaller association". Of the Order’s 46 hospitals in Italy, 27 closed. Only the Provinces of Rome and Lombardy-Venice survived, the Province of Sardinia having disappeared even before the 1866 Act. By now, the Province of Poland had also disappeared, having declined to the point where only the hospital of Cracow remained. In 1865, this was absorbed into the Province of Austria-Bohemia.
1867: The young priest – destined to become known as Saint Benedict Menni – was commissioned by Pope Pius IX and departed Rome for Spain. He travelled by way of France, spending a few months at the hospitals of the Brothers in Lyons and Marseilles. From there he travelled to Barcelona where he ran into early opposition from the Archbishop and others. However, by the end of the year the Archbishop had been won over and Brother Menni had been joined by two companions with whom he opened a hospital for children. During the following year, Brother Menni himself fell ill and was ordered to Marseilles to recuperate.
1868: This year Brother John of God Sobel, a surgeon in the Order’s Prague hospital, travelled to Edinburgh in Scotland to attend Joseph Lister’s lectures on the new antiseptic methods for surgical operations and the treatment of wounds. Two years later, in 1870, Brother John of God introduced these methods into the Prague hospital with dramatic, and immediate, improvements in results. Another year passed before the new principles achieved wider acceptance in German countries. Brother Sobel continued to be influential in introducing improvements into surgical practice, such as steam sterilising.
1870: War broke out between France and Prussia this year. An early victim was the little House on the Rue Lecourbe in Paris, where the Brothers had cared for forty "poor little sick lads" since 1858. The building was so damaged that it had to be propped up and only part of it was useable. A year later a new administrator was appointed in Brother Gaetan. Apart from the poor state of the building, he also faced a substantial debt. He set to work to remedy both, with such good effect that the debt was cleared in three months and the occupancy rose rapidly to 120. One effect of the Franco-Prussian war was to take away from Rome the French troops who had been protecting the remaining Papal territories. They were replaced by Italian soldiers.
1871: In Ireland the Sisters of St. John of God were founded to care for the sick and dying. Their first ministry was the nursing of the sick, both rich and poor in their own homes. During the next twenty five years, the Sisters though small in number, responded generously to many calls to care for the sick and educate the young in Counties Wexford, Kilkenny and Waterford. Then in 1895, eight Sisters left Ireland and travelled to Perth, West Australia to open a foundation at the invitation of Bishop Gibney. The Sisters grew to be a very significant part of Catholic Health Care in Australia and eventually set up a PJP called on St. John of God Australia Ltd which our Order in Australia joined on 1 July 2007.
1872. In Spain, the struggle between the followers of Don Carlos and Queen Isabella flared again. Back in Barcelona, Brother Menni found his life frequently threatened and in 1872 he was arrested and arraigned before a mob that demanded his immediate execution. Unexpectedly he was released but told to leave Spain immediately. He went to Marseilles and recalled the four novices he had left behind in Spain. The indomitable Brother Menni then joined the Red Cross and returned to Spain with three companions, once more putting his life at risk in the battle zones.
1874: The Apostolic Palaces formed the nucleus of what would later become the independent Vatican City State. In 1874, a start was made on setting up permanent medico-pharmaceutical services in the Palaces. To begin with, the pharmacy was situated in the Cortile S. Damaso and the honour of attending to the pharmaceutical requirements of the Vatican was accorded to the Order. It was an appropriate appointment, recognising the Brothers long history of specialisation in the field. The early Constitutions of the Granada hospital had made a special point that the pharmacist must be a Brother, because then the medicines would be "better and cheaper". Further, there was always to be a second Brother Pharmacist in training. The year 1874 saw one other event of significance, albeit not one which endured as the Vatican Pharmacy has done, for in that year the Brothers made their first start in the U.S.A., at Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They remained only eight years.
1876: This year hostilities ceased in Spain. After an abortive attempt to set up a new foundation, Brother Benedict Menni returned to reorganise the Barcelona hospital. Then he moved to Madrid, intending to start a similar orthopaedic hospital but once more difficulties intervened, causing a change of plan. He moved to a town located south 30 kilometres south of Madrid. The name refers to the number of wells that existed in the town. Some of the houses there were linked to small caves and the people were engaged in agriculture on lands next to the Jarama valley.
1878: When the Jesuits were expelled from the Kingdom of Sardinia Piedmonte in 1848 religious orders and the clergy were harassed by a series of repressive laws. These had the effect of progressively wiping out the Italian Congregation in four Provinces: Rome, Milan, Naples and Sicily. Of 46 hospitals, 27 went almost immediately. The others went one by one until only Perugia remained. Men who had been members of the suppressed religious institutes received a state pension. In 1878 fresh problems confronted the Italian Brothers when their Mother House, on Tiber Island, was taken over by the Municipality of Rome. The Brothers were kept on as health care workers in the hospital. This phase lasted five years and then the hospital was taken out of the hands of the Municipality and came under the control of the Board of the "Re-united Hospitals of Rome". A year later, after long and subtle negotiations, three foreign Brothers, acting as private citizens, bought the hospital from the State. This was possible because the Royal Commissioner convinced his administrative committee that the hospital needed to have spent on it a large sum of money and that this burden should be shifted to people willing to take on the burden. The three "foreigners" proved to be the only bidders.
1879: This year the Order made its first foundation in Palestine when two Brothers took over the tiny Tantur hospital, 14 km. from Jerusalem, in 1879. The hospital had been opened ten years earlier as a hostel by the Order of the Knights of Malta. The Knights first approached the Brothers in 1877 but the Prior General declined because of the opposition of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem. The Patriarch later withdrew his opposition but trouble soon arose between the Vicar Prior of the two-man community and the French Ambassador. France was the political protector of Catholic foundations in the Holy Land at this time. Consequently, when one Brother was withdrawn in 1880, no more Brothers were sent until 1893, when a new house was opened.
Problems continued which disturbed the relationship between the Brothers and the Knights. During this time, the house was directly responsible to the General of the Order. A move would be made at the General Chapter of 1905 to attach it to a Province but this possible was left unresolved for the General Definitory to negotiate. The outcome was that the house passed first to the jurisdiction of the Province of Styria and then, in 1913, to that of Lombardy-Venice Province. Six years later, it passed to the Province of Rome until, three years later, the Order left the Tantur hospital.
The Vicar Prior, Brother Ottomar Mayer, was allowed to explore the possibility of the Order establishing its own hospital in the Holy Land. After failing in Jerusalem, he moved to Nazareth where he leased a house for three years. In this he acted without authority and official approval was withheld until he could demonstrate the financial independence of the Nazareth house. The history of conflicts in which Brother Mayer was involved suggests he was a controversial figure. He accepted the challenge and quickly raised ample funds. The project was launched but was dogged by continuing misfortune. The first Prior died of sunstroke within months of his appointment. After some soul searching, the Prior General appointed Brother Ottomar to succeed him.
The hospital functioned in its rented accommodation for some time, then moved to its present site outside the town. Like the first work in Palestine, the hospital at Nazareth has changed Provinces a few times: From Bavaria to Styria in 1907, to Vienna in 1936 and to Lombardy - Venice in 1959. Today (2011) the Polish Province is responsible for the Nazareth Hospital.
1880: Encouraged by the success of Brother Benedict Menni in Spain, Prior General Alfieri sent another Brother-priest to Sicily in the hope that he would be able to re-establish the Order on that island. The mission failed.
The year 1880 was also a significant year for the French Province for two reasons. Firstly, the government broke its contract with the Brothers who operated the military hospital at Nancy on their behalf. They had begun this work several years before the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 and had nursed wounded soldiers of both armies. Now, despite its appreciation of the work, the anti-clerical government wanted the Brothers out. This was in line with legislation which banned all Orders and Congregations except the Carthusians and the Trappists. The government, having dismissed the Brothers from its own hospital, decided to close all the Brother’s hospitals. However, this move was thwarted by the Priors who collectively announced that their patients, which included "several hundred lunatics", would be transported to the local town halls and left there. The government changed tack and imposing crippling taxes instead.
As a direct result of the political climate at home, the French Province began work in England in the same year and then, in 1882, also established a Community at Stillorgan, near Dublin in Ireland. There had been an unsuccessful attempt to establish the Order in Ireland sixteen years earlier, when Patrick Courtney, son of well-to-do Irish parents, came to Rome as a novice, with the express purpose of establishing the Order in his homeland. Ill-health forced him to abandon his plans within months of his arrival. He died of tuberculosis in London.
1881: Before the restoration, the Spanish Congregation had no psychiatric hospitals at all although some, such as the hospital established at Cadiz in 1614, had special wards for psychiatric patients. The first of their hospitals to specialise purely in psychiatry opened at Ciempozuelos, Madrid, in 1876. Initially there were 100 beds but when the hospital celebrated its first centenary it had 1,500 patients. Five years after this hospital was founded Brother Menni set up another psychiatric hospital at Ciempozuelos – this time for women. It later became the Mother House of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Congregation which Brother Menni founded.
This Congregation of Sisters began in 1881 when two young women were placed under the spiritual guidance of Brother Menni. Brother Menni had first met the two women when he returned to Granada in 1867. They were amongst a small group waiting in the Church where the remains of Saint John of God were interred. Hitherto, the Order in Spain had cared only for men. Now, in response to insistent calls from the municipal authorities, Brother Menni was able to provide the same services for women. By the time of his death, in 1914, he had founded 13 hospitals to be run by the Sisters. The congregation received the Decree of Praise from Pope Leo XIII in 1892 and held its first General Chapter in 1895. It received the Papal Decree of Approval in 1901.
1884: The new moves across the English Channel, important though they were, were overshadowed by events in Spain. By 1884, Brother Benedict Menni had trained a large group of Brothers and he applied to the Holy See to set up the Province of Spanish-America. In the same year, a Chapter was held and he was elected the first Provincial, a position to which he was re-elected five times. When his term of office finally ended, in 1903, there were 14 foundations in the Province. The creation of the new Province marked the end of two and a half centuries of separation for the Spanish and Italian Congregations. In 1885, Constitutions were approved for the reunited Order for an initial period of five years. It was basically the Constitutions of the Congregation of Italy, appropriately modified to suit its new purpose.
1885: If the previous year was one of personal triumph for Brother Benedict Menni the following year must have brought him satisfaction of a grimmer kind. In that year, cholera invaded the whole of Spain. The Medical Director of the two houses run by the Brothers and Sisters introduced a new treatment. Mortality fell dramatically, from 75% to 10%. Sadly though, a number of Brothers and Novices were among the victims.
On 16 November the Jesuits’ Superior General, the Flemish priest Peter Beckx, affiliated our Order to the Jesuits.  When Prior General Giovanni Maria Alfieri reciprocated by affiliating the Jesuits to our Order on 18 December  the Jesuit Superior General, responded by saying that this would enable the Jesuits and the Brothers of Saint John of God, “closely united by bonds of perfect charity, through their good works and prayers, to help one another to become increasingly more devoted to glorifying God and saving souls, and working for the good of humanity as your meritorious Order is already doing with such charity”.

1886: The Congregation of Rites issued the decree "Inter Omnigenas Virtutes", which declared St. John of God and St. Camillus to be Co-Patron Saints of hospitals and the sick. The decree was confirmed by Pope Leo XIII.
1887: The 46th General Chapter in 1887 brought together the Provinces of Rome, Lombardy-Venice, France, Austria, Bavaria, Prussia, Styria and Spain. With the latter’s presence it became the first Chapter of the reunited Order, although the formal Act of Unification was still a year away. For 270 years the Congregations had been separated. The Chapter was held in Venice, the first one to be held outside Rome, the Tiber Island foundation being still in the hands of the United Hospitals Commission. Absent was the Province of Hungary, whilst the Provinces of Naples, Sicily and Sardinia had fallen under masonic - liberal laws. The eighty-year-old Father Alfieri was re-elected General with a Vicar General to support him. From this first unified Chapter it was agreed that an International House was needed in Rome as a security against the loss of the General House on Tiber Island.
1890: Brother Benedict Menni began the restoration of the Order in Portugal, establishing first a home for Priests in Lisbon and then a hospital for boys. This latter was the location of a novitiate. Only a year later, he inaugurated a new project in Lisbon which led to the creation of a great psychiatric hospital which became the Mother House of the Province and later was the location of the world’s first ever leucotomy operation performed on a human brain. This was also the year in which the modern habit finally emerged in its present form, described in the 2009 General Statutes of the Order as coloured either black or white and composed of a robe, gathered at the waist with a cincture that hangs down the left side and a scapular with a hood.

1891: Statistics produced this year reveal a high level of professional qualifications amongst Brothers. Between 1605 and 1891, the Province of Vienna had seen 2732 religious. Of these, 314 were priests, 327 surgeons, 21 were physicians and 141 had become pharmacists.
1892: The Brothers joined the Parish Priest of Worishofen in running the institute he had founded two years earlier. In 1896, they took it over completely. It was the first hospital to specialise in hydrotherapy. The ‘Kneipp cure’ was named after the pioneering priest and he wrote the first treatise on the subject which ran to 63 editions in 14 languages in 11 years.
1893: At the beginning of the final decade of the 1800s Joseph Kugler joined the Order in Germany. He was 26 years old and slightly crippled, having seriously injured a leg when he fell from scaffolding during his apprenticeship to the iron trade. His first contact with the Brothers was at Reichenbach, where he attended their chapel each evening. His fortunes were at low ebb for several years following his accident but an offer of employment from his brother-in-law led Joseph to become an excellent locksmith who gained a lot of work through his friendship with the Brothers. Although Joseph was gladly received as a postulant, when it came time to consider him for the Novitiate the Community of nine Brothers was divided over the wisdom of accepting a man who was not only physically handicapped but also in poor health. Sufficient votes were cast in favour of admitting Joseph to the Novitiate where he received the religious name of Eustachius. He proved to be a man of great administrative ability who was to spend 41 of his 53 years in religious life as a Superior. After serving as a Prior for a number of years his confreres elected him to be Provincial and he served in that office until his death. His time as Provincial included the time of the rise of National Socialism in Germany and the Second World War. His exemplary life led to his beatification on 4 October 2009.

1901: France passed legislation that required all Religious Orders and Congregations to obtain State authorisation to continue. Subsequently there was a threat to suppress all Orders and Congregations which did not request approval within three months. The Brothers responded, much as they had done a quarter of a century before, by turning their attention to other lands. This time, it was Belgium, where, in 1904, they had started a new work. In the next few years, the French Government made further changes in the law and the situation remained tense until the end of the First World War.
1904: On 15 July Brother Giovanni Battista Orsenigo died in Rome. It is said that he was one of the most famous persons in Rome in the last period of the 19th century. Born at Pusiano in Northern Italy in 1837 he went to Milan for work where he became aware of the work of the Order. Later, in Florence, he learned dentistry from Brother Bartholomew Pezzatini. His desire to become a member of the Order was realised in 1867, when he entered the Novitiate in Rome. The Order’s Novitiate was situated at the St. John Calybita Hospital on the Tiber Island. On 9 August 1868 he made simple profession and then made solemn profession on 28 August 1871. One of Brother Orsenigo's tasks was to take care for two years of the old and sick confrere Brother Ambrosius Mary Testa, former Superior and dentist at the San Gallicano Hospital (one of the Roman hospitals managed by the Brothers), until his death on 26 April 1870. Brother Orsenigo learned from Brother Testa how to become an expert dentist and also imitated his special devotion to the Mother of Good Counsel, whose feast had been in the liturgical calendar of the Brothers from 1787. Donations that Brother Orsenigo received from grateful patients enabled the construction of a new hospital in honor of the Mother of Good Counsel at Nettuno. The construction of that Hospital started in 1890 and ended in 1892. Brother Orsenigo also rendered dental services in two other Roman Institutions, the Consolazione Hospital and the Ospizio di San Michele. In 1904 he organized for the last time the feast of the Mother of Good Counsel. By then he had a cancer in the stomach and after the feast he felt so weak and tired that he decided to have a rest in the Hospital that he founded in Nettuno. He died there on 15 July and was buried in the cemetery of the Municipality, where he rested for a 100 years. In 2004 his remains would be moved to a new grave in the Chapel of his hospital.
1905: On 28 April the Tiber Island hospital received a young Salesian seminarian who was suffering from tuberculosis. He was Ceferino Namumcurà and a member of the native Araucan people of Argentina. As a school boy in a Salesian college he had emulated the ‘Salesian saint’ Dominic Savio to the degree that he was sometimes described as ‘another Dominic Savio’. Wishing to join the Salesians, Ceferino went to Italy in 1904 to continue his studies in a climate that seemed more suited to his health. While living an evidently holy life, his health deteriorated and it was determined that he had tuberculosis (T.B.). On 28 March 1905 he was admitted to the Fatebenefratelli hospital on the Tiber Island in Rome. Treatment was unsuccessful and he died on 11 May. His Salesian confreres started the process of canonization and he was beatified on 11 November 2007 during the pontificate of Benedict XVI.
1912: The Order had not held a General Chapter since 1905. The indefatigable Brother Benedict Menni was still active. He had inaugurated the project in Lisbon which was to become a great psychiatric hospital and the Portuguese motherhouse and, in 1901, had gone to Mexico, where he took charge of a newly built hospital at Guadalajara. He had been Papal Visitor for the whole Order for three years and now he was appointed Prior General, a position he held until his death at the age of 73. The Vicar General had convoked a General Chapter before Brother Benedict was appointed Prior General but that Chapter was not held. Instead, the new Prior General convened an Extraordinary General Meeting to consider a number of urgent matters. Matters which came under the general heading of ‘constitutional reform’ were held over for further study.
1914: During the nineteenth century, the Order’s provision of medical services to the armed forces had been a diminishing role for the Brothers. At first we see this decline with respect to the navy and, then, the army. By the beginning of the 20th century this military involvement, begun 350 years earlier, had all but ceased. Thus, when the war broke out in 1914, the Order was not operating any military hospitals. However, the authorities conscripted many Brothers into the armed forces and most of them served in military hospitals or field hospitals. In addition many of the Order’s European hospitals admitted sick and wounded soldiers. Work with them continued for several years after the war ended. Of course, the Brothers also suffered directly from the War. German troops seized the Lommelet hospital, located near Lille in France, and the Provincial was sentenced to death. The death sentence was later commuted and replaced by a heavy fine. Most of the Brothers were moved from Lommelet to other hospitals and many subsequently died.
1916: Even in the midst of the great conflict, events took place of significance to the Order. In 1916, the church that had been built in the first half of the 18th Century in Granada, to honour St. John of God, was elevated to the status of a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XV. One year later, the Vatican Pharmacy moved from its original home to a location near the Porta S. Anna.
1919: Shortly after the war ended, the Northern Italian Brothers converted their hospital in Nazareth into a hostel for pilgrims, a role it continued to fulfil under the control of the Austrian Province until the British Army confiscated it on the outbreak of the Second World War.
The end of the First World War saw the collapse of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary became separate republics and the Order responded at its General Chapter in 1919 by forming new Provinces of Czechoslovakia and Silesia whilst Jugoslavia became a Vice-Province. It is noteworthy that the Chapter elected a priest to become Prior General. However, the Vatican Curia’s Congregation of Clergy asked the Chapter to think again. The Brothers were asked, as far as possible, to observe the prohibition made by the supreme pontiffs against promoting priests to the offices and positions of authority in the Order. The result of this intervention was that the General Chapter then elected instead the Brother who was the Second General Councillor. Since 1912 Pope Benedict XV had promulgated the Code of Canon Law. The Order set up a commission to consider this as well as the Constitutional reforms which had come forward after 1912. The Chapter also decided to increase the number of General Councillors from three to four.
1926: A revision the Constitutions of the Order appeared. For the first time since 1587, there was no requirement for the hospitals of the Order to make special provision for convalescent patients.
1922: From the age of 12, when he entered the Saint Augustine College in Pavia, Italy, the man who would become known as Saint Richard Pampuri was known for his goodness, simplicity, candour and piety. These were qualities which he displayed throughout his short life. He qualified as a doctor in 1922 and practised at Morimondo for five years. Morimondo is a town in the Lombardy region of Italy and is located 20 kilometres from Milan. In Milan he entered the Order in 1927. As a novice, he undertook the most menial tasks in the hospital yet, at the same time, his opinion was frequently sought by doctors attending the patients. He always responded to such requests with the greatest humility. In 1928, Brother Richard made profession and was appointed Director of the dental department of the nursing home of the Order in Brescia. Brother Richard had long suffered delicate health and he died in 1930, aged 33, after developing pleurisy which deteriorated into pneumonia. He was beatified in 1981 and canonised in 1989.
1927: This year the Order returned to Canada. The man destined to be the first Provincial on North American soil was Brother Mathias Barrett, an Irishman who was admitted to the Order at Stillorgan and transferred to Lyons, France, for his novitiate. Although he was considered “backward”, and could not then speak French, it was his bilingual ability which led to his selection to head the small group which made a start in Montreal. It was a disastrous start in many ways, but Brother Mathias had a sharp eye for real estate and he soon took over an abandoned brewery in a run-down area of the city. The brewery became a shelter for the city’s poor and, later, the novitiate also, for Brother Mathias had a gift for bringing in new vocations. Subsequently, Brother Mathias established a large hospital in the city and was Provincial of Canada for 13 years.
In the same year, 1927, Brother Eustachius Kugler embarked on the building of two hospitals in Regensburg. Both hospitals were of 400 bed capacity. One was for men and the other for women. Brother Eustachius had been the Bavarian Provincial for only two years and many of the Superiors were opposed to the scheme, believing it would bring the Province to ruin. Their fears were not vindicated and, when completed and equipped with the latest medical and surgical equipment, the hospitals were the most modern in central Europe.
1928: As a consequence of the great expansion that had taken place in the Hispano-American Province, the Houses and Works in Portugal were separated and formed into the Portuguese Province. This happened officially at the 52nd General Chapter in 1928. The same Chapter decided that the Order should compile a manual of devotions and prayers.
1929: This year the Vatican Pharmacy moved once more, this time to its present location in the Palazzo Belvedere. In the same year, the Brothers of the Castilian Province returned to Chile. During the 17th century the Brothers had been responsible for 57 hospitals in that country. They took up their history with just one hospital but this was soon followed by another foundation three years later.
1930: Pope Pius XI proclaimed Saint John of God as the heavenly patron of nurses; he is, in fact, also patron saint of booksellers, printers, heart patients, hospitals and fire-fighters. This year was also marked by the holding of an Extraordinary General Meeting to consider a plan of the Prior General to restore and develop the facilities of the Order on the Tiber Island. The meeting agreed to the plan and that the Provinces would share the costs. The work began quickly and the Prior General completed the renovations in 1934. This was in spite of a campaign against the project conducted jointly by Benito Mussolini and certain Roman daily newspapers. Mussolini had the idea of converting the Tiber Island into an outdoor archaeological museum.
1934: As a further consequence of its expansion, the Spanish Province divided into three: Andalusia, Aragon and Castile, each of the Provinces taking a number of the South American foundations. Also, the Roman Province gained the same autonomous status as other Provinces. In the same year, the Anglo Irish Province was created and Adolph Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Two years later, civil war broke out in Spain. In that civil war some 7000 priests and religious died, including 98 Brothers of Saint John of God. Some of them died at the hands of firing squads and others were gunned down at their posts. In July 1936 the Republican (Loyalist) Government suppressed the Order by declaring it an enemy of the people. Militarism also affected the Brothers work in the Holy Land when their hostel for pilgrims was taken over by the military and, during the next 17 years, was successively occupied by the troops of five different armies.
1935: On a more positive note, the Delegation General of Rumania came into being in 1935 with three Houses taken from the Hungarian province. This was a reaction to a State prohibition on foreign nationals in positions of authority. However, the General Delegation never prospered and disappeared entirely in 1948.
1936: This year the psychiatric hospital of the Brothers at Telhal, Portugal, became the first in the world to use a convulsive treatment, brought on by cardiac injection. In France the Brothers set up their first establishment for intellectually handicapped people, “La Ville Terte”, at Oize. This step had great significance for the future work of the Order. Hitherto, the Brothers had been concerned almost totally with health care, whether in a hospital setting or on the battlefield. The French Province initiated a new “stream” of health care, orientated towards persons with mental handicap. This flowed on in Provinces that emerged through the direct initiative of the French Brothers, such as Ireland and England, and in other Provinces, less directly connected with the French Province such as the U.S.A., Australasia and Korea.
1939: Slovakia proclaimed itself independent, thereby turning Czechoslovakia into two separate republics. The Province of Czechoslovakia similarly divided, forming the Province of Bohemia Morava and the Vice Province of Slovakia. This preceded the commencement of the Second World War. As had happened in the First World War, 25 years earlier, many Brothers were drfated into various armed forces, usually in medical services. The hospitals of the Order opened themselves to sick and wounded servicemen. Some hospitals of the Order were handed over to the Red Cross and others were requisitioned by governments. The Prior General, Brother Ephrem Blandeau, was French so, with Italy allying itself with Germany and Japan, he returned to France in June 1940 and lived at Lyons until he was able to return to Rome in April 1942.
In Germany, Brother Eustachius Kugler saw all his younger confreres conscripted and sent to various fronts. Many died and many more were captured. Others “lost their vocation” and never returned to the Order. Many of the requisitioned hospitals of the Provinces were not returned to the Order when the war ended. When Germany came under increasing bombardment from the air, the hospitals were not immune. Half of the Munich hospital was destroyed and the hospital at Regensburg had a extraordinary escape. Some of the Brothers were sent to concentration camps, where they offered to work as camp nurses. Six of them died in these camps. In the Middle East the Nazareth hostel had its second change of “management”, when the British army confiscated it as “enemy property” and turned it into a military hospital. As the war progressed the British handed it over to the Australian Army which, in turn, passed it on to the Poles. Out in the Pacific, the Japanese attacks on China, Pearl Harbour, Singapore, Darwin and other Pacific islands and countries made ship travel very dangerous and interrupted the planned foundation of the Order in Australia.
1940: Not all of the events at this time were dictated by the war. Rome in particular managed to inject a few touches of normality and this year the Brothers opened their second house, St. Peter’s Hospital on the Cassian Way. In fact, for 81 years, between 1616 and 1697, there had been an earlier second hospital of the Order in Rome. It was a convalescent home for patients discharged from the Tiber Island hospital. Today’s St. Peter’s also began as a convalescent home but it was transformed in 1956 into a modern 398 bed general hospital. Also in 1940 Pope Pius XII acceded to a request from the municipality of Granada, Spain, and declared Saint John of God to be the patron saint of that city. In the same year the Canadian Delegation General became a Province and, the following year, Brother Mathias Barrett ended 13 years in Canada when he went to Southern California. He had received invitations to make a foundation from the Cardinals of Los Angeles and Boston. He remained there for ten years, his personal speciality being the salvation of distressed priests, many of whom returned to an active ministry with his help.
1943: The war was at its height in 1943 when a small group of Brothers left neutral Portugal to take over a small state run psychiatric hospital 32 km from Lorenzo Marques, in Mozambique. It was the first “modern mission", the start of a period of intense missionary activity and a new beginning in Africa. It was particularly appropriate that, in picking up a thread which had been unbroken from 1681 to the decline at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Brothers had chosen to return to Africa at the place where they left off. Only a year later, they made a second foundation in Mozambique, this time a leprosarium. They established it at the invitation of the Minister for Health. Another two years saw the setting up of a second leprosarium. In subsequent years, a total of seven Provinces established missions in Africa. Most of them were Portuguese (including Angola, 1967) but there were also missions from Andalusia in the Cameroons in 1968, Aragon in Sierra Leone in 1967, Castile in Ghana in 1956, Liberia in 1963, England in Zambia in 1962 and the Lombardy-Venice Province in Somalia in 1943, in Togo in 1961 and in Dahomey in 1967.
On 16 October, in Rome, the Nazis carried out a sweep of the ‘Jewish ghetto’ area near the Tiber Island in order to take into custody Jews living in that area and send them off to Nazi death camps. Nearly 8,000 Italian Jews perished in the Holocaust. A group of Brothers and Co–workers at the St. John Calybita Hospital on the Tiber Island immediately reacted by receiving and hiding some Jews who fled to the hospital from their nearby homes to seek asylum. One of the lay people involved in this act of mercy and hospitality was Dr. Giovanni Borromeo. Dr. Borromeo remained on the staff of the hospital until 1961 when he died in the hospital after spending 27 years within its walls and becoming Chief Medical Director.
1945: The Second World War ended in 1945. Despite the havoc it had wrought, with 25 hospitals of the Order destroyed in 9 different countries and 23 Brothers killed, no fewer than 22 new houses had been established during the six years. In the years following the Second World War, the major developed nations sorted themselves into two blocs. The Western Alliance was made up of countries operating under a democratic capitalist system whilst the countries of Eastern Europe formed the Communist bloc in which they were joined at times by China and some Southeast Asian countries.
Although these two groups incorporated most of the World’s economic strength, the majority of countries did not belong to either bloc. This was notable with regard to the countries that made up South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. These became known as the Non–aligned Countries and the largest member of the group was India.
Whilst the world was thus divided politically it was also divided economically because, with the economic strength of the World concentrated in the two power blocs, most countries of the Non–aligned group were clearly have nots. A new phrase emerged as they became known as Third World countries.
The post war development of the Order was closely related to these political and economic divisions. Most of the established Provinces of the Order were in the relatively affluent member countries of the Western Alliance. These countries generally practised religious tolerance, although active membership of Christian churches suffered a marked decline. Consequently, the foundations of the Order generally survived and flourished, their work being valued, although, in common with most religious Orders, they suffered a decline in new vocations.
The remainder of the foundations of the Order were mostly in countries which formed the Communist bloc. Here the political climate was strongly antagonistic towards Christianity.
1946: The first tangible effects of this situation were felt in 1946 when Silesia became part of Poland. The German speaking population was expelled, including the Brothers of Saint John of God. Polish Brothers were allowed to remain in their residences but were kept in seclusion and were not allowed to nurse patients. Some hospitals of the Order were handed over to a new Communist organisation known as Caritas. In these institutions the authorities allowed the Brothers to continue nursing and to admit novices. Czechoslovakia was a reunited country and followed a similar path but Rumania, Yugoslavia and Hungary nationalised the hospitals of the Order and expelled the Brothers from them totally. Thus, with stability or even stagnation in the West and oppression in the East, it was in the Third World that most post war expansion took place. This generally took the form of a missionary outreach from an established Province in a Western country.
The Bavarian Provincial, Brother Eustachius Kugler, died at Regensburg on 10 June. He had been Provincial since 1925. He had served as Provincial during very troubled times in Germany. He endured harassment under the Nazi regime and was subjected to severe interrogations by the infamous Gestapo. His cause was successful and he was beatified at Regensburg on 4 October 2009.
1947: The first postwar General Chapter (the 54th) was held in 1947. The Chapter decided to increase the number of General Councillors to five so that a Councillor whose mother tongue was English might be included. Also the status of Province was given to the Communities and works of the Order in Colombia which had, to that time, been a General Delegation. The same Chapter created the General Delegation of Wurttemburg for the German–speaking Brothers who had had to leave Silesia in Poland after the war. The General Chapter was made aware that a small group of Irish Brothers had gone to Australia in response to a request from the local Church. Only two years earlier the first Australian to become a Brother, John McAdam, had entered the Order in Ireland and received the religious name of Brother Francis Xavier.
Also in 1947, the Brothers returned once more to the birthplace of Saint John of God, Montemor O Novo, where they opened an orthopaedic hospital.
1949: This year the Spanish Brothers of the Andalusian Province opened a clinic for children with cerebral palsy at Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Elsewhere in Europe, this year, there was a significant reunion. During the war, in Austria, the Brothers had been expelled from the houses of the Styrian Province (established in 1879). After the war the Brothers could only return to four of their hospitals so the Styrian Province was reunited with the Austrian Province, finally ending the division which had begun when the Order in Austria faced extinction during the height of the oppressive regime of Emperor Joseph.
1950: The 1950s was the “Cold War” era, when Russia tightened its grip on Eastern Europe. The effect on the Order was considerable. The Hungarian Province was suppressed in 1950 and the General Curia lost contact with the Brothers. The meagre information that came from the various Provinces behind the “Iron Curtain” indicated that Brothers often stayed together and continued to work in their hospitals, but it was rare for new vocations to be allowed. Even in Austria, only partly occupied by Russia, the Order came close to extinction with no new vocations from the time of Hitler’s occupation in 1938. Still the diminishing number of aging Brothers kept their hospitals going.
1951: Two Brothers of the Bavarian Province arrived at Kobe, Japan. They intended to establish a home for aged people but they concluded that this would be an inappropriate apostolate at that time. Their thoughts turned instead to a T.B. Sanatorium. However, following some research that took them to Tokyo, a general hospital was under consideration for some time. Once more, this initiative was found impracticable. Finally, the Brothers established a home in Kobe to care for aged and sick missionaries. Still in the area of the German–speaking part of the Order, this year the General Delegation of Wurttemburg, which had been created in 1947 for Germans–speaking Brothers who had had to leave Silesia in Poland after the war, changed its name and status to that of the Vice Province of Frankfurt.
Also in 1951 Brother Mathias Barrett left the Order with a view to establishing another religious institute which would, eventually, be called “The Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd”. After helping with the establishment of the Order in Canada and Southern California, Brother Mathias had felt a call to go to New Mexico and start his own religious family with the mission of serving homeless men. His first foundation was at Albuquerque.
1952: This year saw the return of the Austrian Brothers to their hospice in Nazareth. Its chequered history continued after the war. For example, during the 1948 struggle between Jews and Arabs, each side in turn occupied the hospital. Meanwhile, in the Americas, this year also saw the return of the Brothers Perú where they opened orthopaedic hospitals for children at Lima and Arequipa.
1952: The beginning of the year witnessed the arrival in Vietnam of three Canadian Brothers, William Gagnon, Richard Larivée and Norbert Lacerte, who had made a lengthy ship journey to Saigon from where they would go to Bui Chu in the North to make a foundation of the Order. Their arrival was a response to a request of the Apostolic Vicar. Three years earlier Vietnam had divided into the geopolitical divisions of North and South. The Southerners were mainly Buddhists. The Brothers took over a small hospital in the village of Bui Chu. The old cement building had 15 patients in residence; supplies and equipment amounted to a few pills and two pairs of rusty scissors. Civil war was already raging, although the outbreak of full hostilities of the infamous Vietnam War was still nine years away. Their first new patient was an eight year old boy who had been wounded and for whom they could do little. Things improved greatly when the baggage of the Brothers arrived. It contained equipment, medicines and instruments purchased in France. The Brothers received an average of fifteen new patients each day. All were severely wounded. In spite of this, an early letter from the Prior described their mission as, “very large and beautiful”.
The military situation deteriorated. By June 1953 the village was surrounded by Communist militia. The Canadian Brothers, “Frenchmen” to the aggressors, were at particular risk and were ordered away. They departed for a while, leaving behind six Vietnamese Postulants who were not under threat, one of them being put in charge of the hospital. After the Canadian Brothers were able to return to Bui Chu, they turned their attention to making a new foundation and novitiate. They planned to make the first step in this development by moving to the Northern capital of Hanoi. Meanwhile at Bui Chu the Brothers struggled on with limited supplies and a hospital overflowing with wounded. Finally they were forced to leave and to follow the Catholic population in its flight from the North to the South. The hospital that they left was destroyed.
When the Brothers arrived in the South they moved to a huge refugee camp 30 km from Saigon where they provided medical aid. They asked for, and obtained, an old prison camp which, within ten days, they turned into a hospital. The three Canadians and eight Vietnamese were joined by personnel from the Philippines Medical Mission and were supplied by the American Mission. An average of 8,000 in–patients and 12,000 out–patients were treated every month. By 1966, their hospital had become “an imposing hospital complex”, with more than 250 beds and a community of 5 professed Canadians, 18 professed Vietnamese and 5 novices. By then the Vietnam war was in full swing and the thunder of B-52 Bombers had become a familiar sound.
1953: The three hospitals of the Order in Rumania were excised from the Hungarian Province. They were made into a General Delegation. In the same year, the Brothers returned to Brazil. As a consequence of the spread of Communism, the 55th General Chapter, held in 1953, was attended by representatives of only two Vice Provinces and 12 Provinces. The members of the Provinces of Silesia, Hungary, Bohemia–Moravia and Poland, together with the Vice Provinces of Yugoslavia, Romania and Slovakia had been dispersed by laws and regulations introduced by various Communist governments. Matters determined by the Chapter included the elevation of the English Vice Province to the status of a Province and the return of the hospital of St. John Calibita on the Tiberr Island, Rome, to the jurisdiction of the Prior General. The Roman Province had taken over responsibility for the hospital on the Tiber Island in 1942.

1954: At the 55th General Chapter, held this year, Brother Ephrem Blandeau, was relieved of the heavy burden that he had carried throughout the war years and the postwar reconstruction by the election of Italian Brother Moses Bonardi of the Lombardy–Venice Province as Prior General. Brother Norbert McMahon was re–elected in the position that was recognised as the one that should go to an English speaking Brother. In August the General Curia issued instructions on the correct use of television. The purpose of the regulations was “to preserve our Brothers from the terrible dangers that this most modern means of propaganda presents, which is frequently used as a infernal weapon of corruption”. On 16 June 1954 the Brothers took possession again of their hospital at Regensburg which had been occupied by the USA Armed Forces since the end of the Second World War. The statistics of the Order at the end of this year showed that there were 197 Houses and 1,797 professed Brothers (197 temporary professed and 1,600 solemn professed).
1955: In Oceania, Brothers from Australia crossed the Tasman Sea and established the Order in New Zealand, their first work being a special school for intellectually handicapped boys at Christchurch, on the South Island. In the same year the Italian authorities built a 100 bed hospital at Chisimao in Somalia. The management of this hospital was confided to Brothers of the Lombardy–Venice Province. In due course, when Somalia became an independent State in 1960, the Brothers handed over control to the new authorities. The Community remained another year during which time various plans to establish new works in Somalia all fell through. When the Lombardy–Venice Province set up a new foundation in Togo, West Africa, the Italian Brothers left Somalia to help with that new project.
Also In 1955, the Portuguese Brothers opened their third leper hospital in Mozambique. By this time the first two hospitals of the Order in Mozambique had a combined patient population of around 5,000. Thereafter, numbers declined rapidly as the younger residents in particular learned selfhelp skills, agriculture and manual arts. Little more than ten years later, only the original hospital remained.
1956: Brothers from the Castilian Province arrived at Asafo, Ghana, an inland town where there was no hospital within 160 km. The small, 32 bed hospital set up by the Brothers soon had a very high throughput of patients, with more than 100 out–patients every day. From Asafo, the Brothers also established two dispensaries 40 km. away, which they attended twice a week. The second Castilian Province foundation in Ghana was made at Koforidua four years later and, once again, the Brothers established a hospital where previously there had been none. The 80 bed orthopaedic, paediatric and general hospital was opened in 1964, its equipment and specialities making it the first of its kind in Ghana. The first Ghanaian postulants were received at Koforidua, whilst the novitiate house was at Asafo.
In 1956 the President of the Liberian Republic had taken the opportunity provided by an audience with Pope Pius XII to appeal for the founding of a Catholic hospital and university in his country. The proposition materialised under Pope John XXIII with the University of Turin accepting responsibility for the project. A 200 bed hospital was planned and a site was provided in the capital, Monrovia. From the beginning it was expected to be run by a Catholic Hospitaller institute and the Brothers of the Castilian province were approached in this regard. They began their work in 1963, manning a 12 bed hospital while the new project took shape. In 1960, the first stage was ready in the form of a 90 bed hospital and adjacent medical chool.
Late in the year, on Christmas Eve 1956, the Brothers in Australia and New Zealand received the news that the Houses and works of the Order in Australia and New Zealand had been raised to the status of a Province, under the patronage of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
1957: This year saw a reorganisation of religious formation in Spain when a small villa was purchased in Salamanca to become the Order’s Spanish Inter-Provincial College to be attended by Brothers studying at the Salamanca University. In due course, the original villa would be replaced by an impressive, purpose built college.
1958: Another group of women who were working closely with the Brothers came into a formal relationship with the Order during 1958. They were workers at the psychiatric hospital of Saint Raphael in Bad Wörishofen, Bavaria. They took the title of “Sisters of St. Raphael” and, within a year, they numbered 17. The foundation had no Statutes and took no vows, its members binding themselves to the Order with a simple promise. Eventually these Sisters would become responsible for the Kneip Treatment Centre at Bad Worishofen.
This year Brothers of the Irish Province arrived in South Korea. The first Community of the Order in South Korea was composed of Brothers Timothy Deane, Brendan Flahive, Bede Greaney, Fergus Skehan and Ephrem Bogues. The Bishop of Gwangju – a member of the Irish Missionary Society, the Colomban Fathers – had invited the Brothers to his diocese. The Brothers were his guests for several months, during which time they bought a piece of land and built a 12 bed infirmary. By January 1960 it was ready and well-equipped. Attendance of patients increased steadily, to reach 200 a day within 4 years. The Brothers also introduced domiciliary nursing care at an early stage. An additional work of the Brothers was to help in a nearby camp where 500 North Korean refugees lacked other medical assistance. As if this were not enough, the Brothers found a leper colony whose 600 occupants had been abandoned, so they visited as often as they could to provide essential treatment. Within a few years, the Brothers’ Gwangju health care centre had developed to become one of the best available in Korea, treating around 75,000 out-patients a year.
On 28 October (1958) Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was elected as Pope John XXIII. He was well disposed towards the Order and told a gathering of French Brothers in 1951 that “When I was a young seminarian, I listened to the life of Saint John of God read in the refectory. I remember that he had seemed to hear a voice say to him, "John, Granada will be your Cross." In Roncalli’s diary, “Journal of a Soul”, he records on 17 April 1950 how, as an anonymous tourist visiting Granada, "Quiet night in Granada. I went to celebrate mass at the church of St. John of God and had great satisfaction in doing so in the Camarín before the urn and precious relics of the great hero of charity ". After Mass, he wrote his signature, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, in the Camarín’s guest book. When, the following year, as Papal Nuncio, he attended the closing of the celebrations in France for the fourth centenary of the death of St John of God, he informed those present that “On April 17 last year, I had the rare privilege of staying in Granada, the holy land of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God. Early in the morning an old woman pointed out to me the splendid church built in honour of the saint. Although I was traveling incognito as a simple priest in a black cassock those good Brothers recognized me and they received me with exquisite kindness. This experience brought about in me a devotion which I keep still alive in my heart.”
In 1959, the Lombardy–Venice Province took the first steps which led to the establishment of a small hospital at Afagnan, in Togo, West Africa. It was still a primitive country when the Brothers arrived in 1961 and the interior was largely inaccessible. The Brothers wasted no time and they began treating patients on the day of their arrival. The hospital that they built at Afagnan opened its doors in 1964 with 80 beds. It became known as the most beautiful private hospital on the West Coast of Africa. It also came to incorporate a school for nurses.
In the same year, the first English Brothers arrived in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia. They were there at the invitation of the Government to help overcome a shortage of skilled staff by operating a 260 bed psychiatric hospital which was in the final stages of construction. The hospital opened in 1962. In 1964, the country separated from the confederation it had formed with Southern Rhodesia and Malawi, becoming the independent republic of Zambia.
The end of the 1950s saw the world with many trouble spots. The war that raged in Vietnam brought the Canadian Brothers’ hospital in Bien Hoa right into the front line. In fact the first two hospitals were destroyed by communist forces. In Cuba too, a move to the political left under the leadership of Fidel Castro had led to confrontation with the United States of America. However, the new regime did not seriously disrupt the work of the Brothers’ hospital in Havana.
The Order’s 56th General Chapter took place in 1959 and elected Spanish Brother Higinio Aparicio Rojo as Prior General. Irish Brother Benignus Callan was elected to replace Brother Norbert McMahon in the position of English-speaking General Councillor. This Chapter was the first at which the Australasian Province had representation. The capitulars who came from the Australasian Province were the Provincial, Brother Killian Herbert, the Metropolitan Prior, Brother William Lebler and Brother Fabian Hynes who was resident in Rome. As allowed by the guidelines for post-Vatican II General Chapters this Chapter elected the new Prior General for a twelve year term of office.
In 1959 the Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro became “President for Life” of Cuba and instituted a Communist government and established close relations with the Soviet Union. The home of the Order for physically handicapped boys at Mariano, Havana, was allowed to continue its work but, by 1962, was reporting enforced reduced activity. This home would eventually become a home for the aged. The Order’s Havana psychiatric hospital was allowed to continue its work and has done so to this day. In Israel, the status of the House of the Order at Nazareth was changed from that of an International House dependent on the General Curia to that of a House of the Lombardy Venice Province. In Rome the General Curia began looking for a suitable property for the construction of a college to accommodate the students of the Order’s International College of Spirituality and Missionology who, at that time were living at the Tiber Island. The annual statistics of the Order at the end of this year indicated that there were 184 novices and 99 oblates (men who shared the community life of the Brothers without making religious vows). The professed membership totalled was 2,219 (537 temporary professed and 1,682 solemn professed).
1960: The newly elected General Government of the Order, under Brother Higinio Aparicio Rojo, continued to guide the movement of the Order into new areas. The decade opened with a disastrous earthquake which killed 20,000 people in Agadir, a coastal town in Morocco. Within hours a complete field hospital had been assembled across the Mediterranean, in Italy. The staff of the hospital included a surgeon and nurses from hospitals of the Order. Despite the quick response, by the time they arrived the authorities were giving priority to burying the dead in order to reduce health risks. Still, the first patients soon arrived and activity steadily built up. Even 11 days after the earthquake, new survivors were being found buried in the rubble so the work continued for some time. On the East Coast of the USA, on 1 March, a new foundation of the Order at Brookline, a suburb of Boston, was canonically established. The hospital, renamed Saint John of God Hospital, already existed as the Haynes Memorial Hospital. Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, had purchased the hospital and given it to the Order.
The 56th General Chapter had introduced certain Constitutional reforms, intending these to be experimentally applied until the next General Chapter. However, one effect of "Vatican II" was to postpone any decisions related to Constitutional reform.
1961: On 6 March 1961 Pope John XXIII went to the Hospital of Saint John Calybita on the Tiber Island to visit Cardinal Marcello Mimmi who was a terminally ill patient. The Pope spent some time by the bedside of the Cardinal speaking and praying with him. The Cardinal expired soon after his visit from the Pope. On 8 June the first Vietnamese to make solemn profession made his vows into the hands of the Canadian Provincial. He was Brother Paul Dinh Vien Tang. At the time,in Vietnam there were five Canadian Brothers, 11 temporary professed Vietnamese Brothers and 5 novices. The annual end-of-year statistics showed that the Order was composed of 18 Provinces, 4 Vice-Provinces and 1 General Delegation. The professed membership was 2,244 — 567 temporary professed and 1687 solemn professed.
1962: In Japan, the 30 bed home for aged and sick missionaries at Kobe was enlarged by the addition of a 50 bed ward for psychiatric patients. This was a noteworthy achievement in a country with a very small Christian population and with government policies that opposed foreign participation in its hospital system. Japanese men slowly began to present themselves as candidates for membership of the Order. In the same year, 1962, the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, “the Pearl of the Indian Ocean”, received three Brothers from the French Province. They quickly opened two health centres there, although one closed after a few years. Later they acquired a plot of land in a suburb of Sain Francois on which to build a convalescent home for children. 1962: This year saw the beginning, on 11 October, of the Second Vatican Council (also known as Vatican II) which was intended to address relations between the Church and the modern world. It would continue in a number of sessions until closing on 8 December 1965. Some Brothers attended the sessions of the Council where they were in charge of three first aid posts within St. Peter’s Basilica. The Brothers who served in the first aid services of Vatican II received a Medal of Appreciation at the conclusion of the Council. The medal, suspended on a gold and white ribbon, was a relief of the Basilica of St. Peter’s with the inscription of Concilium Ecumenicum Vaticanum II with the seal of Pope Paul VI in the background. The Council brought thousands of bishops to Rome and many of them visited the Prior General Higinio Aparicio at the Tiber Island to ask for foundations of the Order in their countries.
1963: This year saw Blessed Pope John XXIII publish his encyclical on peace in truth, justice, charity and liberty, Pacem in terris. This started a reorientation of the attitude of the Church towards the secular world that gave a positive impetus to the transfer of the Order’s International School of Spirituality and Missiology that prepared Brothers for leadership and missionary roles in the future which had begun on the Tiber Island on 3 July 1956 and was established on the Via della Nocetta on 3 July 1963 when the premises were blessed by Father Angelo Pechan, who then celebrated Mass in a room that substituted for prayer and liturgies for some time until Oscar De Prata was able to complete the frescoes of the Chapel. Over time, the Nocetta came to be used not only for a school but for many conferences organized the General Curia which was transferred there following the election of Brother Brian O’Donnell as Prior General in 1988.
College of St. John of God in the Via della Nocetta, Rome. This provided a new venue for the existing college which had been operating on the Tiber Island. That hospital was also developing rapidly and was planning to open, a year later, a department of nuclear medicine. The Brothers in Rome were busy in other ways too because the assembly of the Second Vatican Council brought extra work to them, with eight Brothers manning the first-aid centres which were located in various parts of the Council Hall.
1964: The Vice Province of Frankfurt was renamed the Vice Province of the Rhineland. The Brothers of the Lombardy–Venice Province began planning a foundation in another West African country, Dahomey. Former Prior General and now Provincial, Brother Moses Bonardi was responding to an indirect request from a Swiss benefactor. He chose to build in the north of the country where 300,000 people had no access to medical services of any kind. The plans were ready by 1967 but by then the Swiss benefactor had died and no funds were forthcoming. The Province chose to finance the work itself and a 168 bed complex was begun in 1968.
1965: The 57th General Chapter of the Order, designated an Intermediate General Chapter, took place and tried to respond to the Influence of the Second Vatican Council by making a declaration of principle on the nature and aims of the Order, affirming the relevance of the Order to the Post Vatican II era. The Chapter took some significant decisions, including the adoption of Italian as the official language of the Order. It also named Saint Joseph as Patron Saint of Vocations of the Order. While the incumbent Prior General, Brother Higinio Aparicio remained in office for the second part of his twelve year term, General Councillors had to be elected for the coming six years. Brother Benignus Callan was replaced by Irish Brother Fidelis Devlin in the position of English–speaking General Councillor. At this Chapter the office of Metropolitan Prior was abolished – holders of this position were the Priors of the Mother House of the Province and had the right to attend the General Chapter with the Provincial and a Brother elected by the solemn professed members of the Province. Also the recitation of the Divine Office was substituted for the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.    
After it made a foundation in Korea the Irish Province, in 1958, began sending Brothers to the USA to collect funds to support the Korean Mission. Eventually it decided to establish a community and work in the USA to provide a base for these Brothers. In 1965 this decision took the form of a special education day school at Westville Grove, New Jersey.
1966: The Bavarian Province, which at that time was working mostly in the field of services for people with mental and physical handicaps, moved into a new field by establishing a hospital in Munich. It was located in an historic area of Munich – near the 300 year old Nymphenburg Palace which had been built in 1664 by Elector Ferdinand Maria to serve as a summer residence. The Provincialate of the Bavarian Province would eventually be moved from Regensburg to this more convenient location.
1967: This year the Province of Aragon, Spain, accepted a 30 bed hospital built by the Xaverian Missionaries about 2 km from Lunsar, in Sierra Leone. Lunsar is In the Port Loko District of the Northern Province of Sierra Leone. The town is about 65 miles or 104 kilometres from the national capital, Freetown. The inhabitants of Lunsar are almost entirely from the Temne ethnic group and the Temne language is widely spoken in the town. This hospital would ultimately be taken over by guerrilla forces in the civil war that raged in Sierra Leone from 1991 to 2001 in which 50,000 people died. The year 1967 also saw the first community of four Portuguese Brothers arrive in the capital of Angola, Luanda. While their own hospital was under construction, they were given control of the 158 bed psychiatric section of the Luanda Central hospital.
The year 1967 also marked the high point of the membership of the Order in modern times before the reduction in vocations began after the Second Vatican Council. At this time, the Order had operated 655 hospitals since its foundation and the statistics for 1967 show that then there were 193 houses with a total of 41,313 beds. There were 245,412 patient admissions for a total of 13,584,978 bed days. In addition, a total of 1,167,287 out-patients were treated.
The membership of the Order, including aspirants, postulants and novices stood at 3548. However, the professed membership of 2,172 was made up of 493 Brothers in temporary simple vows and 1679 solemn professed Brothers. They were organised into 24 Provinces. Postwar missionary outreach had established the Order in 11 African States: Angola, Cameroon, Dahomey, Ghana, La Reunion, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Togo and Zambia. Similar extensions to the work in Asia had embraced South Korea, Japan, India and South Vietnam. On the other side of the balance sheet, communist governments had closed 17 houses in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia and North Vietnam. A further 22 had continued to operate, although control had been taken away from the Brothers. Only in Cuba did the Brothers retain control of their works in a communist country.
The hospital and college of nursing established in Monrovia, Liberia, by the Castilian Province was blessed and officially opened on 19 March 1967. Thus began an institution known as “St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital” that would consistently remain open at the service of the Liberian people through various national crises, including the civil wars of 1989 to 1996 and 1999 to 2003. Although the hospital was attacked by guerrilla forces it always remained open and, at one time, was the only hospital operating in the country. During the 1989 to 1996 war the hospital sheltered, for some months, a community of Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and handicapped children from their centre in Monrovia.
The Order’s statistics at the end of 1967 showed a professed membership of 2,172 (493 temporary professed and 1,679 solemn professed). The Order had 175 Houses but 34 of them had been confiscated by Communist governments in Silesia, Hungary, Bohemia Morava, Poland, Slovakia Yugosavia, Rumania and Vietnam. Precise information was lacking about the number of Brothers in Yugoslavia and Romania. Throughout the world there were 127 novices.
1969: The 58th General Chapter of the Order took place. It was designated an Extraordinary General Chapter because it responded to a call of the Church to its religious institutes to hold a Chapter in order to implement the changes mandated by the Second Vatican Council. The Chapter took place in two sessions (from 15 April to 28 May) and 11 October to 25 November). During the second session the Chapter elected French General Councillor, Brother Marie-Alphonse Gauthier, to the office of Prior General. As a result of the Chapter deliberations an International Commission for the Renewal of the Constitutions was formed. It met at Montemor O Novo from October 1969 to April 1970.

1970: As the Catholic Church began to accustom itself to a revised rite of the Mass that resulted from Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum of 3 April 1969 the Australasian Province extended its work to Papua New Guinea when two Brothers arrived to take charge of the Cheshire Home in Port Moresby. Within a few years, the focus of the Order in Papua New Guinea shifted to the remote highlands of the Gulf Province when the Brothers went to the almost inaccessible village of Kamina. The mission of the Order at Kamina was to provide basic medical services in a region which had none and to promote the overall development of the people as a preventative health initiative.
The same year saw, after an absence of 100 years, the return of the Order to India in the persons of four Brothers from the Rhine Province. They were the Indian Brothers Savio Padinjarekkutt and Prakash Madappally and the German Brothers Fortunatus Tanhauser and Alfons Hoering. Unusually, the German Brothers had prepared for their foundation in India by recruiting several young Indian men who were sent to Frankfurt for initial formation and first profession of vows. The Brothers went to Kattappana in the State of Kerala and began the long, but highly successful, process of setting up a general hospital.
In Africa Brothers from the Lombardy Venice Province arrived in the West African country of Benin. In little more than a decade, the hospital found itself in the midst of human tragedy on a grand scale when the Government of Nigeria forced a million people from their homes to return to their country of origin. For the majority of these it meant a walk through Benin and Togo to Ghana, with no food or water and little chance to rest. The only medical team available to travel with the refugees was that provided by the Brothers of St. John of God from Afagnan in Togo.

The second session of the 58th General Chapter took place in 1970 and the Chapter elected, at that session, a new Prior General. He was Brother Marie Alphonse Gauthier, a member of the French Province. He was Third General Councillor at the time of his election. During his term of office new Constitutions and, for the first time, General Statutes were approved ad experimentum. In the General Government of the Order led by Brother Marie Alphonse Gauthier Australian Brother Fabian Hynes was elected to replace Brother Fidelis Devlin as the English–speaking General Councillor. Brother Fabian was a member of the Vatican Pharmacy Community at the time. Brother Fabian become Prior of the Pharmacy Community and would serve a total of 53 years in the Vatican, returning to his own Province in 2007. Brother Fabian achieved a number of “firsts”. He was the first Australian to be elected a General Councillor and he served in this position for 12 years. He was Bursar General of the Order for the same period. On Australia Day, 26 January 1995, he was made a member of the Order of Australia.
The whole Order saw with great satisfaction the canonisation this year of Saint John of Avila who had been an attentive spiritual director and loyal supporter of Saint John of God.
1971: As a consequence of the guidelines for renewing religious life in the Church that had come from the Second Vatican Council, the existing 1926 Constitutions of the Order had undergone a fundamental review. This revision was approved in 1971.
1972: The Order continued to expand and the communities of four of its centres were given canonical status this year — in the Vatican, at Reichenback in Germany, at Damyang in South Korea and at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain.
1974: at the Chapter of the Australasian Province Brother Brian O’Donnell, who would become the first English–speaking Prior General of the Order was elected Provincial. At the time of his election he was local superior of the Community at the Cheshire Home at Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. The Order has a long history and tradition of nurse and medical education. This was symbolised by the Colombian Province establishing in 1947 a school for auxiliary nurses in the Colombian capital Bogotá.

1975: In the reform of the Calendar of the Order carried out this year, the date for celebrating the Feast of the Patronage of Our Lady was fixed to be the third Saturday in November. This liturgical feast was instituted in 1736 “to implore the powerful patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary upon our Order”. On 7 January 1817, Pope Pius VII had confirmed the decree of the 1736 General Chapter that the feast of the Patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary should be celebrated in every chapel of the Order on the third Sunday of November.
1976: At the 59th General Chapter Brother Pierluigi Marchesi was elected as Prior General and Brother Fabian Hynes was re-elected as General Councillor.
1977: This year, during the Provincial Chapters, the Prior General, Brother Pierluigi Marchesi, became increasingly aware of the escalating movement towards renewal taking place in some Provinces and he decided to increase the attention that he was giving to this matter. While at the USA Provincial Chapter in Los Angeles he met and discussed renewal with a priest named Fr. Eugene J. Schallert. This Jesuit priest was the Director of the Institute for Socio-Religious Research at the University of San Francisco. In due course Brother Pierluigi engaged the help of Fr. Schallert and his Institute in shaping the renewal programme of the Order world-wide. On returning to Rome he set up two bodies to work on a renewal programme for the Order. The one concerned primarily with renewal was called The “R” Commission and the one concerned with the charism of the Order, Hospitality, was called The “H” Commission. The work of these commissions, with the assistance of the Institute for Socio-Religious Research, would result in the drafting of two renewal documents entitled “The Barriers that Divide Us” and “The Strengths That Unite Us”.
1978: Brother Pierluigi Marchesi convoked a Meeting of Provincials to take place in Granada on and around the Feast of Saint John of God. At this meeting he presented “The Barriers that Divide Us” and “The Strengths that Unite Us”. The appearance of these two documents initiated a practice that would continue through the succeeding generalates–the production and issuance of documents from the General Curia dealing with specific topics. Up until this time Priors General had communicated with the members of the Order by means of circular letters which would be read to the Brothers in the refectory during meals and then filed in the archives of the Province. In future a series of documents would be distributed and, usually, placed in the hands of each Brother for further study, reflection and discussion at the personal, Community and Province levels.
1979: One of the signs of the response of the Order to the call of the Church to renewal was the establishment in October 1979 of an organisation called SELARE (Latin-American Renewal Secretariat) at Bogotá, Colombia. In 1989 the organisation would be renamed SAL.OH. Besides promoting renewal of the life of the Brothers and their mission in Latin America through various courses and assemblies, SELARE and SAL.OH also published a large number of books on topics pertaining to the life and mission of the Order.

Although only three years had elapsed since the previous General Chapter another, non-elective and Extraordinary, took place in 1979. It ran from 12 November to 15 December and focused on the charism of Hospitality and renewal.
1980: The English Province was invited to send Brothers to Monze, a town in the Southern Province of Zambia, to pioneer a rehabilitation centre for children with physical disabilities. This would complement the services of a highly regarded hospital run at Monze by the Holy Rosary Sisters. The Brothers had to start from scratch. The centre was composed of 20 tiny huts off a rutted track 10 miles from the town. Initially the children at the centre came from the Monze hospital following corrective surgery but children came later who had been affected by poliomyelitis, cerebral palsy and various osteopathic conditions.
In 1980 there was a popular uprising in the city of Gwangju, South Korea from 18 to 27 May. During this period, students and citizens rose up against the dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan and took control of the city. However they were ultimately crushed by the South Korean army. Brother Donatus Forkan, then Novice Master, later reported the involvement of the Brothers in this situation thus: the critical deterioration in the situation overtook the public holiday of Buddha’s birthday. On that day the Order’s Saint John’s Clinic was closed for the national holiday. At 11 a.m., from the flat roof of their residence, the Brothers saw a group of the protesting students arrive at the Clinic pushing a hand cart on which there were two corpses. Although other hospitals had refused, the Brothers agreed to accept the bodies and cleaned and dressed them. Later they arranged for the bodies to be taken to a central location where the relatives of the deceased could more easily find them. The Brothers of the community and the Novices opened the clinic to receive any wounded people who might come.   Over the course of the next several days many wounded people were brought to the clinic. Only a few were kept overnight. The most serious cases we referred immediately to the larger General Hospitals in town. Anticipating that, after the suppression of the uprising the authorities would try to get the names of the people involved in the event among the civilian population by visiting the hospitals to find out the names of those admitted or treated with injuries, the Brothers did not register any of the people who were treated at the Clinic. Some months later the parents of one of the dead students came to the Clinic to express their appreciation for what was done for their deceased son. They presented the Prior, Brother Ronan Lennon, with a small gold cross in appreciation. They said that when the found the body of their dead son clean, clothed with his wounds dressed they were astonished, asking themselves, what type of persons had done such a charitable and beautiful act for their brutally murdered son, an individual they never met or knew ?    
1981: One of the seminal documents of Brother Pierluigi Marchesi was published on 8 March. It was “Humanisation” and urged the Brothers to humanize their life and mission by means of greater faithfulness to the distinguishing charism of the Order, Hospitality. The message and stimulus of “Humanisation” was well received both within and outside the Order and helped to change the mindset of the Brothers as Religious and the guardians of the charism of Hospitality as the Second Millennium moved towards its conclusion.
Soon afterwards, on 13 May 1981, Pope John Paul II was entering St. Peter’s Square to address an audience when he was shot and critically wounded by Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish gunman who was a member of the militant group Grey Wolves. The Pope was struck by bullets that perforated his colon and small intestine. He was rushed into the Vatican complex and then to the Gemelli Hospital. The Polish Brother Camillo Kipiel, who was on duty in the Piazza that day, accompanied the Pope in the ambulance to the hospital and was by his side during the five hour operation that the Pope underwent. The blood transfusion service of the St. John Calybita Hospital on the Tiber Island sent blood of the Pope’s group to the Gemelli Hospital. When the Pope was allowed to leave hospital and return to the Vatican he was nursed in his apartment by Brothers from the Vatican Pharmacy (Italian Brothers Ceasere and Urbano) and the St. John Calybita Hospital (Spanish Brother Nemesio).
The morale of the Order was greatly improved when Pope John Paul, recovered from his wounds, beatified Italian Brother Richard Pampuri in Rome on 4 October.

1983: Brother Pierluigi, who was always alert to the demands of new and more sophisticated systems of promoting health care, decided to establish an international foundation to offer Co-workers and health professionals medical and nursing training within a framework of traditional values of Christianity and John of God Hospitality. The foundation, known as F.I.F., which stands for International Foundation of the Fatebenefratelli, was established in 1983 and is still active in promoting health education and research.
The Order’s annual statistics released at the end of 1983 showed the number of its foundations throughout the world to be 189, with a total of 1352 Brothers in solemn profession and a further 195 simple professed. There were also 30 oblates and 127 novices. Prior General Pierluigi Marchesi was honoured with an invitation to attend the Sixth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which dealt with the issue of Reconciliation and Penance in the Mission of the Church. On 15 October 1983, he addressed a plenary session of the Assembly. His discourse was later published under the title of “Reconciliation in the World of Health Care”.
1984: The General Definitory of the Order, at a meeting late in February, decided to expand the system of International Secretariats of the General Government of the Order. The existing Secretariats of Pastoral Care and Formation were confirmed and three new Secretariats were set up for the Missions, the Laity and the Centres and Administration.
On 8 March new Constitutions and General Statutes for the Order were promulgated to replace the Constitutions and Statutes of 1971. The new Constitutions and Statutes completed the post– Vatican process of updating the proper law of religious institutes. The basic understanding of the documents was that the Constitutions embodied the constant values and traditions of the Order and would not be likely to require significant changes in the foreseeable future; whereas the Statutes contained the practical ways of expressing those values and traditions and could be more easily updated by future General Chapters as and when required by changing circumtances. In fact, all subsequent General Chapters made changes to the General Statutes.
1985: Pope John Paul II, by means of his Motu Proprio, Dolentium Hominum instituted the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Ministry of Health Care Workers on 14 July. He appointed Prior General Pierluigi Marchesi a member of the body and nominated Brother José Luis Redrado, of the Province of Aragon, as its Secretary. The constant and persevering work of the Order’s Postulator General resulted in the beatification of Brother Benedict Menni on 23 June 1985.
1986: In the late 1980s the Order was becoming more conscious that its Brothers, Communities and Works in Asia and Africa needed to be considered as entities in terms of their particular cultures. The General Definitory, under the leadership of Prior General Pierluigi Marchesi, had acted to ensure that the Asian and African regions elected special representatives to attend the General Chapter of 1982. At that Chapter Brother Pierluigi was re–elected Prior General and he included a meeting of members of the General Government of the Order with the Brothers responsible for the Order in Asia in his programme for the 1982–1988 sexennium. This meeting took place at Gwangju, in South Korea, from 16 to 18 March 1986. It was attended by four members of the General Definitory and Brothers from Australia, India, Japan, Korea and Papua New Guinea. One outcome of this meeting was the preparation of a document entitled Dossier Asia for the 1988 General Chapter.
Although the beginning of the Third Millennium was still some time off it had become common to talk about preparing for the Year 2000 and beyond. Brother Pierluigi responded to this concern about preparation for the future by publishing another document that would be identified with his time as chief animator of the Order. It was called “Hospitality of the Brothers of St. John of God Towards the Year 2000”. The International Commissions which had been set up for Formation, Centres and Administration, Pastoral Care, the Laity and the Missions began to meet twice-yearly and, from the following year, 1987, published a number of reports on their particular areas.
This was a year of Provincial Chapters and in May 1986 the three Provinces of Spain came together at Ciempozuelos to hold a combined Chapter – leaving the elective sessions to take place separately. In June the Order joined with the Camiliians to celebrate the centenary of the nomination of Saint John of God and Saint Camillus de Lellis as Co–patrons of the sick, hospitals, nurses and physicians. In addition to other events, the two Superiors General, Brother Pierluigi Marchesi and Father Calisto Vendrame, wrote a combined letter to the members of their institutes entitled Together To Serve Better. Pope John Paul received members of the two institutes in a special audience on Saturday 7 May.
The bishop of the new Diocese of Jerez, erected in 1980, wanted to have Blessed John Grande as heavenly patron of the diocese. This did not accord with established practice whereby such the patron of a diocese had to be a canonised saint. Insistent requests by the bishop of Jerez, supported by his confreres of the Spanish Conference of Bishops, obtained from the Pope, in 1986, as an act of grace, approval of Blessed John Grande being the Jerez diocese patron. This act anticipated the canonisation of Saint John Grande by Pope John Paul II ten years later.
1987: The activities of the General Curia having expanded greatly during the terms of office of Prior General Pierluigi Marchesi, he prepared for the coming General Chapter by consolidating the establishment of the Offices of the General Curia at the Orders International centre on the Via della Nocetta. Since the closing of the College of Spirituality and Missionology, the International Centre on the Via della Nocetta, under the supervision of Canadian General Councillor Brother Elias Le Gresly, had been used to provide hospitality for Brothers and friends of the Order who were visiting Rome. This consolidation of the Offices of the General Curia left only the offices of the Prior General and the Secretary General on the Tiber Island, where the General Councillors also lived. In April this year the Order granted the Charter of Affiliation to the Mexican Congregation known as the Handmaids of St Margaret Mary and the Poor. The Handmaids had been founded by Saint María Guadalupe and came to make 22 foundations in Mexico, Peru, Iceland, Greece and Italy. One of the first saints canonised by Pope Francis, she was raised to the altars of the Universal Church on 12 May 12, 2013 at a ceremony in St Peter’s Square in Rome.

1988: Although some Filipino candidates had been received into the Novitiate of the Roman Province and some Filipino Brothers were professed, the Order came to the Philippines in 1988 in the persons of 2 Brothers from Italy – Brother Francis Gillen and Brother Giuseppe Magliozzi. Brother Francis Gillen was already there when Brother Giuseppe Magiozzi arrived, with two Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart, on 8 February. When the 62nd General Chapter began in October, because Brother Pierluigi Marchesi had served two terms of office, there was an expectation that the Chapter would elect a new Prior General. This happened and on 18 October Australian Brother Brian O’Donnell was elected Prior General. He was the first English–speaking Brother to be elected to the highest office of the Order. For the first time the Co-workers of the Order were represented at a General Chapter. Following the Chapter Brother Brian did not return to live at the Tiber Island and, with the other members of the General Definitory, began to live and work at the International Centre — or the “Nocetta”, as it is commonly referred to by the members of the Order and their Co-workers, friends and supporters. Eventually the General Curia was transferred officially from the Order’s Mother House on the Tiber Island and the part of the House previously used as the General Curia was converted to hospital use and, initailly, allowed for the bed capacity of the hospital to increase by 42 beds.
1989: In Rome the out–going Secretary General, Spanish Brother Miguel Garcia Blanco, published “The Vow of Hospitality” which contained some views that he had expressed at the General Chapter of the previous year. On the organisational level, the new General Government of the Order decided to combine the existing International Commissions (Pastoral Care, Formation, Laity, Missions and Centres and Administration into one body that would meet twice yearly with the General Definitory with a view to expanding the scope and responsibility of the animation of the Order. This new body was called the General Animation Commission.
In December, following the fall of the Communist government of Hungary, Prior General Brian O’Donnell visited the Order in Hungary. This was the first contact of a Prior General with the Order in Hungary after the Order’s hospitals in that country were confiscated and the Brothers dispersed by the Communist government in 1950. He was accompanied by the German General Councillor, Brother Emerich Steigerwald, and was received by the Hungarian Delegate Brother Hilarius Domotor. At the time of his visit the five hospitals of the Order were in the hands of the government and the six Brothers who remained were living separately in various places.
March 1989 saw the first issue of an information bulletin HOSPITALITAS that went out from the General Curia. It included a report that Prior General Brian O’Donnell had visited Cuba to attend the celebration, at Camagüey, of the centenary of the death of Brother José Olallo Valdez. In his occasional address in the Camagüey Cathedral Brother Brian promised to promote the return of the Order to the city and to have the Postulator General investigate the life of Brother José Olallo with a view to presenting him to the Vatican Congregation for the Cause of Saints. These promises had their positive results in the foundation of the aged persons’ residential centre Hogar Padre Olallo at Camagüey in 1992 and the beatification of Blessed José Olallo Valdez on 29 November 2008.
Brother Felix Lizaso of the Aragon Province arrived in Rome to ‘understudy’ the Postulator General, Brother Gabriele Russotto in his work of promoting the causes of members of the Order with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. He began his work with preparations for the canonisation of Saint Richard Pampui and then, following the retirement and death of Brother Gabriele, he was responsible for advancing the causes of Saint John Grande, Saint Benedict Menni and the martyred Brothers of Spain, Colombia and Cuba, as well as Blessed Eustachius Kugler and Brother William Gagnon. Further evidence of the effectiveness of the work of the Postulation General was the canonisation of Saint Richard Pampuri by John Paul II on 1 November 1989.
1990: The first high level meeting of the Order in Asia had been prepared by General Councillor Brian O’Donnell in his capacity of General Councillor Responsible for the Asian Region. After being elected Prior General Brother Brian convoked another meeting of members of the General Government of the Order with the Brothers responsible for the Order in Asia. The Provincial Delegation of Japan hosted the second meeting at Kobe from 11 to 14 May 1990. It was attended by five members of the General Definitory and Brothers from Australia, Japan, Korea, India, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.
In Granada on 16 October the Order celebrated the 300 anniversary of the canonisation of Saint John of God by Pope Alexander VIII. The focus of the celebrations was a Thanksgiving Mass in the Basilica of Saint John of God at which the discourse of the Prior General, Brother Brian O’Donnell, was entitled Servant and Prophet. In this document the Prior General drew attention to the second dimension of the Hospitality of Saint John of God—the prophetic nature of his charitable activity. He said that, while there was great value in relieving the suffering of poor, sick and needy people, that was not enough to justify the existence of the Order in the Church and world. Like Jesus, John of God combined in his person the figures of servant and prophet. The servant serves. The prophet proclaims the Kingdom and gives his life for it.
1991: The most significant decision of the Kobe meeting was “to set up an Asian Inter-Provincial Secretariat”. Before the end of the year, from 17-18 December 1990, the inaugural meeting of the Asia Inter–Provincial Secretariat took place at Poonamallee in India. At the conclusion of the meeting Brother Donatus Forkan (then Provincial Delegate of Korea) was elected President of the Secretariat and Brother Joseph Magliozzi (then serving in the Philippines) was elected Secretary/Treasurer. The meeting adopted draft Statutes for the Secretariat that were approved by the General Definitory on 25 November 1991.
In Rome the General Animation Commission approved a number of booklets on various aspects of Formation for distribution throughout the Order. Another publication that emanated from the General Curia this year was one that had been drawn up by a commission led by Brother Valentin Riesco during the last term of office of Brother Pierluigi. It was called Brothers and Co-workers United to Serve and Promote Life and was a seminal document of the Order. It provided the basis on which would be built the constantly deepening of the relationship between Brothers and Co-workers that came to be expressed in the concept of “The Family of St. John of God”.
In Europe there was growing consciousness of the effects on member states of the imminent signing at Maastricht of the Treaty on European Union in 1992. This would bring about a new stage in European integration and advance the concept of European citizenship and economic and monetary union. The European Economic Community would become the European Community. Thirteen European Provincials of the Order were worried enough about the effects of this development on health care and legislation to establish a body that they called the “Europe ’92 Committee”. At the request of the European Provincials a meeting to discuss how to prepare for operating in a changed Europe began at the General Curia from 4 to 6 July. The Prior General addressed the meeting on the subject “The Charism of Saint John of God in the Europe of Tomorrow”. Of wider general interest was another publication of this year entitled John of God Lives On.

1992: The causes of the Brothers of Spain, Colombia and Cuba who had been martyred in Spain in 1936 advanced to the point where 71 of them were beatified in Rome by Pope John Paul II on 25 October 1992.
1993: In India the Brothers, particularly in the persons of Brother Fortunatus Thanhäuser and Brother Prakash Madappally, had promoted the foundation of a congregation of Sisters that had the same charitable objectives as the Brothers. The congregation, known as “The Sisters of Charity of St. John of God” is a diocesan institute and, at its first General Chapter in 1993, elected its first Superior General—Sister Liza Kuruvilla. By the time that the Communities and Works of the Brothers in India were raised to the status of a Province in 2005 the membership of the Sisters’ institute consisted of 77 finally professed Sisters and 13 temporary professed. The Sisters were apostolically active in seven locations in India and four locations in Europe.
1994: For the first time the General Chapter of the unified Order took place outside Europe. It was hosted by the Colombian Province in the city of Santa Fé Bogotá. The theme of the Chapter was The New Evagelisation and Hospitality at the Portals of the Third Millennium and was intended to deal with the evolution of religious life in the Order from the Second Vatican Council to that time and its future prospects. Once again a representative group of Co-workers attended the Chapter. Spanish Brother Pascual Piles was elected Prior General and a future Prior General, Brother Donatus Forkan (then serving as Provincial in Ireland), was elected a General Councillor.
1995: In the first days of this year the former Prior General, Brother Higinio Aparicio, died . He was aged 89. A short time later, on 22 January, the urn containing the relics of Saint John of God in the Camarin in the Saint John of God Basilica at Granada were opened and identified in the presence of the Archbishop and Prior General Pascual Piles. This was in preparation for the celebration later in the year of the 500 anniversary of the birth of Saint John of God. Those celebrations began with a gathering of Brothers and Co-workers in Granada on 8 March at which Brother Pascal Piles delivered an occasional address entitled “The Power of Charity”.
In Rome one of the main events of the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of Saint John of God was an International Conference of Brothers and Co-workers. This conference took place at the Domus Pacis Conference Centre from 27 November to 2 December. Registrations for the conference numbered 617 persons. Pope John Paul II received conference participants in a special audience on Saturday 2 December.

1996: Brother Pascual Piles, who had been Prior General for two years, reflected on his experience of having visited “148 centres [of the Order] in 34 countries” in a circular letter to the Brothers of the Order entitled Let Yourselves Be Led by the Spirit. This year, a course designed to help Brothers prepare themselves for solemn profession was introduced into the programme and calendar of the General Government of the Order. These annual courses, held at the General Curia in Rome and concluding with a pilgrimage to Granada, have continued to be part of the life of the Order and have brought together many of the younger members of the Order and left them with memories that bind them together even though they live in different countries throughout the world.
One of this year’s events that had its origins centuries before was the celebration in 1996 of the 400th anniversary of the official arrival of the Order in Latin America. This event was celebrated with a number of appropriate occasions in the many parts of Latin America where the Order is now present and active. In April 1596 Brother Francisco Hernandez and five confreres from Spain had reached the port of Cartagena de las Indias (in what is now Colombia) with royal permission to take possession of the city hospital that was dedicated to St. Sebastian. The work of the Brothers then spread very rapidly throughout the American continent.
Many years after his death in 1600, the sanctity of Brother John Grande was given definitive recognition by his canonisation in Rome on 2 June.
1997: This year began with, on 1 January, the Provincial Delegation of India becoming a General Delegation. Then, at Granada, there was a meeting of Brothers and others who had researched and written about Saint John of God. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss a number of undecided elements in the story of Saint John of God and his Order. Brother Brian O’Donnell, who represented English–speaking authors and commentators at the meeting, subsequently wrote a guide to the Granada of Saint John of God entitled Welcome to My Granada which was first published in 1997 and later translated into various languages for participants in the 2005 “Young Hospitallers Assembly”.
The General Animation Commission was still an important element in the General Government of the Order and this year it published a seminal document entitled The Missionary Dimension of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God – Prophets in the Field of Health Care. This year also saw the aggregation to the Order of the Indian congregation The Sisters of Charity of Saint John of God. This was formalised during a Mass celebrated by Prior General Pascual Piles in the chapel of the Generalate of the Sisters at Kattappana.
The General Chapter of 1994 had been unable to deal adequately with the revision of certain articles in the General Statutes. It asked the General Government of the Order to carry out this task after the Chapter. A commission was set up in the General Curia to study the matter and to propose changes that seemed necessary. The General Definitory received so many proposed changes from the commission that it decided that it should convoke an Extraordinary (and non-elective) General Chapter to deal with them. This Extraordinary General Chapter was held in November at Salice Terme in the north of Italy in the civil Province of Pavia. Salice Terme is a centre of thermal springs and hydrotherapy and has hotels large enough to accomodate a gathering of the size of a General Chapter of the Order.
1998: The modern history of the Order in Africa reflects the troubled times of the continent after the “Winds of Change” speech of the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in February 1960. An example of this is the 1998 attack by rebels of the RUF on the hospital that the Aragon Province had established at Lunsar in Sierra Leone in 1967. The rebels vandalised the hospital and kidnapped three medical missionary doctors (an Austrian, an Italian and a Spaniard) and a Spanish volunteer. After two weeks they released the hospital staff whom they had kidnapped, together with an Augustinian priest but the rebels then declared the hospital premises to be “no man’s land” and occupied the hospital as a barracks for three years. After the war ended the Brothers returned to Sierra Leone in 1999. They soon realised that instead of opening immediately the hospital at Lunsar it would be better to start a small clinic at Lungi, near the international airport. In May 2002 the Brothers began to reopen the hospital at Lunsar.
1999: Brother–priest José Luis Redrado Marchite had been serving as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Ministry of Health Care Workers since 1985. In the Vatican’s organisational scheme this position was normally held by a bishop and in 1999 Pope Paul II nominated Brother José Luis to be ordained bishop of the titular see of Aufinium. Brother José Luis Redrado Marchite was the first member of the Order to be ordained a bishop. He continued to live in the Community of the Mother House of the Order on the Tiber Island and frequently participated in important events in the life of the Order.

2000: Prior General Pascual Piles, who had been appointed a member of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” in the Vatican in 1999, began this year by attending a General Assembly of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum from 5 to 8 February. Cor Unum deals with matters relating to the charitable works promoted by the Pope. The animation of the Order by its General Government saw the publication of two important documents in 2000. One was the official publication of a document called “the Identity Card of the Order” on 8 March 2000. Pope John Paul II had chosen this date to be the Jubilee Year 2000 Day of Reconciliation. The title did not translate well into some languages, including English, and they gave the document other titles. In English the document has the title “Charter of Hospitality”. The purpose of the document was to address various issues that needed to be clarified in order to know what kind of Hospitality the Order was being called to offer at the beginning of the Third Millennium. The document also introduced the concept of Charismatic Management into the thinking of the Order.
The General Curia also published the “Formation Programme for the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God”. This was a sequel to an earlier set of guidelines on formation published in 1985. The new document updated the earlier one to “comply with the recommendations of the Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata”.
All of the above was part of the preparation of the Order for its 64th General Curia. The Chapter began on 5 November and was held in Granada. Brother Pascual Piles was re-elected Prior General and Brother Donatus remained on the General Council.
Also in 2000: Brothers of the Mexico/Central America Province took the Order back to Honduras (where it had been present from 1662 to 1816) at San Pedro. Two years later (2002) the Brothers began steps towards setting up a Mental Health Community Centre.

2001: In India the Brothers began to prepare to undertake a new ministry—that of the special education of children with learning disabilities. The centre would provide residential services but would also be orientated towards day services both at the centre and within the community. The place selected for this new work was Velloor in the Kottayam District of Kerala. With the cost of building this new centre being underwritten by the Bavarian Province, construction work began in In January.
One of the decisions of the General Chapter of the previous year was that the Order would support the Korean Brothers in making a foundation in China. The place chosen was the City of Yanji in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture. In June two Vietnamese Brothers arrived at Gwangju in Korea to begin language study and other preparations for the new China mission.
This year the Order took its mission of Hospitality into China in the persons of two Korean Brothers (Brothers Thadu Kang and Mario Park) and one Irish Brother (Brother Brendan Flahive). They were later joined by two Vietnamese Brothers, one of whom, Brother Joseph Vuong Hopai Duc, eventually became the Prior of the Yanji Community. On 11 September, while the world was still learning about the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York, the Korean Province signed the agreement whereby it and the Yanbian People’s Hospital formed a joint venture for the establishment of a work for terminally ill patients in the city of Yanji.   
After their arrival the Brothers acclimatised and familiarised themselves with the local environment while construction went on to build what would become known as the “Yanbian Hospice”. Although its initial work was with people in terminal stages of cancer who required palliative care, after some years the centre would also provide for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
It was in this year that the General Curia’s bulletin HOSPITALITAS began to give a fairly detailed account of the travels and activities of Brother Pascual Piles in a section of entitled “From the Brother General’s Diary”. Amongst many events that the Prior General attended and reported on in HOSPITALITAS was a gathering of the English–speaking and the Asia Pacific Provinces that took place in Ireland in May. It was the second of two such meetings (the first took place in Australia in 2000) that were called “Spirit-linking Conferences”. The purpose of the meetings was to strengthen the link between Brothers and Co-workers. Participants in the “Spirit-linking Conference” in Ireland numbered 120 people.
In  2002 Brother José Martinez Gil published in Spanish his "Saint John of God – Founder of the Hospitaller Brotherhood” in which, based on his research in the Secret Archives of the Vatican, he reveals that Saint John of God was born in Casarrubios del Monte, near Toledo, Spain. He explains that the erroneous attribution of the birth of the saint to Portugal was caused by an invention of his first biographer, Castro, who did not want to write that John of God was the son of Jews. His birth was in 1495, that is, only three years after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
2003: The 1984 Constitutions had established that, between one General Chapter and the next, the General Government of the Order could celebrate a General Conference of the Order. The General Curia had decided that such a conference would take place in 2003. The preparation of the General Conference included a series of Regional Meetings, to be held in the four geographical regions of the Order—Africa, the Asia Pacific, the Americas and Europe. The first Regional Conference took place in the Asia Pacific Region, at Poonamallee, India, from 9 to 14 January. It was attended by 34 Brothers, Sisters and Co-workers. Its subject was “the enculturation of Hospitality in Asia and the Pacific” and its theme was “The Third Crop”, applying images of the process of planting, cultivating and harvesting rice to the foundation and development of Hospitality in the region.
Another regional meeting was the African one which was held at Accra in Ghana from 12 to 16 May. Its subject was “Mission Ad Gentes— Hospitality Ever New”. It was attended by 85 people who included most of the members of the General Defnitory.
Back in Rome, in June, here was a “Fund Raising” Meeting to promote the proper collection and distribution of financial resources. There were forty people present, drawn from members and co-workers of the Order who were responsible for fund-raising. Subsequently a number of fundraising entities of the Order formed an organisation named “The St. John of God Fundraising Alliance”.
When planning the General Conference the General Government of the Order had decided to implement its policy of ‘decentralisation’ of meetings of the Order and, in order to focus the attention of the Order on the Asia Pacific region, to hold the meeting in the Philippines. When the Conference began at Tagaytay on 1 December there were 83 Brothers, Sisters and Co-workers in attendance. The theme of the Conference was Charismatic Management. In other words, management of the works of the Order in a way that enables and promotes the exercise of the charism of Hospitality. This had been one of the goals set for the Order by the 65th General Chapter in 2000.
2004: In August 2004 a team of two Vietnamese Brothers and one Indian Brother arrived at Mauritius as part of a move in which the French Province would hand over to another Province responsibility for its aged men’s home at Pamplemousses. The French Province planned to concentrate on making a foundation in Madagascar. Back in 2002 the French Province had investigated the possibility of Brothers from the Asia Pacific Region taking over the Pamplemousses home. At that time the Vietnam Province was looking for opportunities for missionary work outside their own country. Consequently two Vietnamese Brothers, Dominic Pham Thanh Hoai and Dominic Tran Van Hiep, were chosen to go to Mauritius with Indian Brother Albert Thekkumkaduthadathil (70% of the population of Mauritius is of Indian extraction). In August 2003 the three Brothers had gone to Paris, France, to study French as a preparation for going to Mauritius.
Another foundation in a new country was made in this same year when the Portuguese Province of the Order established a presence in East Timor at the mountain village of Laclubar in the persons of two Brothers Vitor Lameiras Monteiro (Portuguese) and José Antonio de Lima (Brazilian). The Province had been invited to establish a Community at Laclubar, in the Diocese of Baucau, by Bishop Basilio do Nascimento who asked the Order to provide the evangelical witness of Brothers’ presence and interventions in the area of health and social action. The presence of the Order at Laclubar was soon reinforced by Saint John of God Lay Missionaries from Portugal who, normally, served there as volunteers for two years.
2005: The Canadian Province, in response to its reduction in numbers to the level of 10 Solemn Professed Brothers, had requested a change in its canonical status from Province to General Delegation. This change came into effect in 2005.
The beatification and canonisation of a number of members of the Order in recent years, and other liturgical changes, had prompted the Order to review and update its liturgical texts. On 11 May Prior General Pascual Piles, accompanied by the Chairman of the Order’s liturgical working group, Italian Brother Andrea Faustini, presented to the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Monsignor Sorrentino, the revised liturgical texts and ritual for Profession that required approval by the Congregation.
The month of June saw Prior General Pascual in Asia for the ceremonies that raised the Communities and Works of the Order in Korea and India to the status of two new Provinces.

In China, on Friday 24 June, a long awaited day arrived when, by an official visit to the “Yanbian Hospice” at Yanji, in the company of a representative group of 32 Brothers and Co-workers, Brother Pascual Piles placed the final seal of approval of the Order on the new work in China and opened its doors to the acceptance of patients as soon as final preparations for their reception and treatment were completed. At the celebratory dinner, hosted by the Prefecture Government in the person of the Vice–Governor, the Chinese authorities expressed their satisfaction with the tangible results already achieved by the joint partnership of the Second People’s Hospital of Yanji and the Order’s St. John’s Hospital of Gwangju, Korea that had been formally signed on 11 September 2001. This is a date that looms large in human history as the day on which 19 terrorists from the Islamist militant group Al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger jets and intentionally crashed two planes into the towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City.
One of the special events that the General Government of the Order had put into its programme of animation for the sexennium 2000-2006 was a meeting of ‘Young Hospitallers’. This meeting, called the “First International Hospitaller Youth Congress”, was held in Granada from 7 to 13 November. The participants in this first gathering of the youth of the Order came in the persons of one Brother and two Co-workers from each Province.
As the year drew to its conclusion founding and pioneering Brother Fortunatus Thanhaüser died. He will live on in the memory of the Family of Saint John of God in India. He was greatly missed and mourned when he died at Kattappana after a long illness on 21 November. He had served in various offices in the history of the Order’s India foundation, including that of Delegate Provincial. However his main influence on the foundation came, not from his administrative skills, but from the constant example he gave to the Brothers and the Sisters of practicing Hospitality in the manner of St. John of God.
2006: The 66th General Chapter of the Order would take place towards the end of 2006 and the year began with a series of Regional Conferences in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Americas and Europe.
A landmark occasion in the history of the presence of the Order in the Vatican occurred when, on 25 April, Prior General Pascual Piles presided over an occasion at the General Curia when the Order expressed its appreciation to Australian Brother Fabian Hynes for the service he rendered in Rome for the more than 50 years that he was a member of the Vatican Pharmacy Community.
Since 1988 the Order’s General Government had been utilizing the emerging Information Technology. The Order understood the importance of having a website where people can find information about the Order. In August the Secretary General, Brother José Luis Muñoz, communicated to the Provinces that work had been completed on a renewal of the Order’s website.
At the 66th General Chapter, on 14 October, the Order elected its new Prior General. He was Brother Donatus Forkan of the Irish Province. He had already served as a General Councillor for 12 years and was responsible for the co-ordination of the Order’s Missions. Before coming to the ministry of General Government he was Provincial in Ireland. He was a qualified nurse and worked for many years in the area of Formation—both in Korea and Ireland. He was an active promoter of the Order’s entry into China and an ‘apostle’ of the integration of Co-workers in the Mission of Hospitality.
Beginning with the 1988 General Chapter, in modern times the Order’s Co-workers have attended General Chapters. The integration of Brothers and Co-workers in the Mission was a constant refrain in the 66th Chapter. In the Co-workers’ message to the Chapter they declared that, with regard to the future: “The decline in vocations is, perhaps, the will of God at work —rather than a lack of human response to inadequate forms of vocations promotion. [However] the Order will not die out, even with the present and future shortage of Brothers, so long as there are lay people who will responsibly participate in its charism, preserving and implementing it.”
2007: Early in the year the General Curia convoked a meeting to instruct the people who would be responsible for translating the new texts of The Ceremonial of Professions, The Liturgy of the Hours, The Proper Masses of the Order and the Lectionary.
On 9 February 2007 responsibility for the conduct of the Order’s hospital on the Tiber Island was, for the first time, confided by the Order to a layman – Dr. Carlo Cellucci. The contract for his services was signed on this date but the event was officially celebrated at the Tiber Island hospital on 2 April. After a solemn Mass in the hospital’s chapel the Prior General, Brother Donatus Forkan, presented Dr. Cellucci to the Community and the personnel of the hospital in his new capacity of Director General. Dr. Cellucci, as Director General, took over the responsibilities for management and administration that had traditionally been the domain of the Prior. This event, at the heart of the Order – in its mother-house – was a sign of the commitment of the Order to the integration of the laity in its mission at the highest levels; something which had been called for by recent General Chapters.
This year the efforts of the Order to regain its ‘lost’ John of God Hospital in Granada reached a successful conclusion when, on 27 March, the “Diputación de Granada” approved the transfer of ownership of the Hospital San Juan de Dios to the Order. The Order’s Province of Betica committed itself to a large scale renovation of the hospital.
Another ‘return’ took place in Colombia where the Province assumed responsibility for The University Clinic of St. John of God at Cartegena de las Indias. This 175 bed hospital has its origins in the Hospital of St. Sebastian that had been taken over by the Order in 1596. The passage of time saw the Brothers leave the hospital but they have always remembered it as the location of their first foundation in South America.
On 2 April 2007 the Prior General, Brother Donatus Forkan welcomed, for the first time, the presence of Co-workers at a meeting of the General Definitory. This “Extended General Definitory” brought lay persons into the General Government of the Order. The Co-workers came from various countries in which the Order is present and active. They were Mrs Brigid Butler, Mrs Rina Monteverdi, Ms Susana Queiroga, Mr Georges Kammerlocher, Mr Adolf Inzinger and Dr. Xavier Pomés. Subsequently the Extended General Definitory met twice yearly. Dr. Xavier Pomés became a very effective and active member of the General Curia structure. He was a medical doctor and Director of Planning and Staregies in the Province of Aragon. In the service of the General Government of the Order he assumed responsibility for the centres and services of the Order in Latin America and frequently accompanied the Prior General, Brother Donatus Forkan, when he visited the continent.
A sign of the innovative actions that the Order will have to take in some places to safeguard its mission was, on 1 July 2007, a legal agreement coming into effect by which the Australasian Province became a member of the PJP St. John of God Australia Ltd and its Australian and New Zealand services becoming a part of St. John of God Health Care Inc.
Another sign of the need for greater and more responsible organisation of the funding of the works of the Order in the developing world was the establishment at the General Curia of an Office of International Co–operation and Missions. General Councillor Brother Vincent Kochamkunnel was placed in charge of the Office and Brother Moises Martin, former president of the Spanish Provinces’ NGO Juan Ciudad, was appointed Director.
2008: Early in this year, on 31 January, the former Prior General, Brother Marie Alphonse Gauthier, died at Marseilles at 86 years. He had served as Prior General from 1970 to 1976. When he returned to the French Province from Rome he joined the Community at the Order’s aged care home at Marseilles and remained there until his death.
The 66th General Chapter of 2006 had recommended that the Order improve its position for confronting the increasing ethical dilemmas of human life that it was meeting in its particular apostolic field. The General Curia responded to this recommendation by establishing a General Bioethics Commission. Its objective was to promote the ethical sensitivity of Brothers and Co-Workers, mainly through formation, to set up new Bioethics Committees and to provide counselling and coordination at the general level on all bioethical issues.
In the United States, Brother Tom Osorio, a member of the Westville Grove Community, was elected President of the Religious Brothers Conference, USA. His appointment took effect on 28 July 2008. As President of RBC he became responsible for supporting Brothers’ Communities and promoting the vocation of the Brother. As President, Brother Tom would represent RBC at various Church meetings and events.
Towards the end of the year the Order celebrated the life of the admirable Cuban Brother José Olallo Váldez when he was beatified at Camagüey, Cuba, on 29 November. The ceremony took place in the presence of all the bishops of Cuba and approximately 20,000 of the faithful. Led by Prior General Donatus Forkan, approximately 200 Brothers and Co-workers had come to Cuba for the beatification from many parts of the world. Among those present was the President of Cuba, Raul Castro, and Daniela Cabrera Ramos whose cure of a cancer at age three, through the intercession of Blessed Olallo, facilitated the beatification.
2009: The idea of the charism of the Order being promoted by events called a “School of Hospitality” had been held by the Order for some years. In Granada, Spain, from 21 to 26 March the European Region held a “School of Hospitality” to bring together European Brothers and Co-workers for the kind of top level formation for Co-workers that various Chapters and international gatherings of the Order had been calling for over a period of time.
In England the St John of God Hospitaller Services opened a new hostel in central London for homeless persons from Eastern Europe. These immigrants can become homeless for a variety of reasons. Blessed José Olallo Valdes was nominated heavenly patron of the 30–bed hostel.
Prior General Donatus Forkan published a letter and DVD entitled The Changing Face of the Order to draw attention to how much the Order had changed in recent years and to sound a positive note of confidence and hope in the future.
In the last week of May the Prior General, other Councillors and visitors from most of the European Provinces went to Poland to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Order in Poland. The week–long programme of anniversary events organised by the Polish Province included a ceremony in the Krakow City Hall at which the City Council presented to the Order the gold medal Cracoviae Merenti.
On 23 June the Irish Province celebrated the 10th anniversary of its first foundation in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Initially the Order took over a residential care home for adults with an intellectual disability—Dympna House. This involvement eventually grew into the Molinos Service, a domiciliary service for the greater Belfast Area that included two clusters of independent-living bungalows. At the time of this anniversary the overall service of the Order in Belfast provided care and assistance to approximately 100 people.
In November the 67th (Extraordinary) General Chapter of the Order took place in Mexico. This non-elective Chapter was convoked to consider and approve changes in the General Statutes of the Order. It began on 9 November at the Nazareth House of Prayer, located 15 kilometres north-east of the city of Guadalajara. The 75 capitulars represented the Brothers throughout the world on all the Continents and in 50 countries. They were supported by a number of Brothers and Co–workers who provided translation, secretarial and logistical services. The Chapter endorsed the emerging image of the Order as “The Family of Saint John of God”.
Like many institutions in recent years, the Order had to face the fact that in institutions of the type in which it carries out its apostolate, such as hospitals, homes for aged and handicapped persons, orphanages and centres of rehabilitation and special education patients and inmates are at risk of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Dr. Patrick Walsh, a psychologist and Co–worker of the Irish Province, spoke to the Chapter about the need to draw up and implement appropriate guidelines for the Order. The Chapter requested the General Government of the Order to set up a commission to study the problem and to recommend appropriate action.
In his concluding address at the Chapter the Prior General addressed himself directly to the Brother priests of the Order. He did this in the light of the Church’s celebration of the Year of the Priest (19 July 2009 to 19 July 2010). He said: “Speaking directly to our confreres who are priests I wish to say that the ministry that you exercise in our centres and services is of enormous importance because people come to us at a vulnerable time in their lives. They are often weighed down, not just by their physical or psychological needs, but by matters that weigh heavily on their conscience. They need a listening ear, an open heart and a spiritual blessing that will bring them inner peace and the courage to face the future”.
The beatification of German Brother Eustachius Kugler took place in the Regensburg Cathedral on Sunday 4 October 2009. The beatification Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop of Regensburg and Archbishop Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, proclaimed Brother Eustachius Kugler as ‘Blessed’. The relics of Blessed Eustachius Kugler are preserved in a side chapel of the St. Pius church of the Brothers’ hospital at Regensburg. In the Regensburg region the memory of Blessed Eustachius Kugler is closely linked with his construction, in the late 1920s, of the Order’s large hospital near one of the main entrances to the city of Regensburg. The sister of Pope Benedict XVI was a patient, and died, in the hospital and the Pope’s brother, Mgr. Georg Ratzinger, was present at the beatification ceremony, which was also attended, according to newspaper accounts, by 7,5000 people.
At a ceremony at Barcelona, Spain, on 27 November a member of the Order’s Aragon Province, Brother Fernando Aguiló, received the Josep Parera 2009 Prize. The prize, 50,000 euros, is awarded to recognise outstanding dedication to the service of community development. Brother Fernando had worked for more than 20 years in the service of the people of the West African country of Sierra Leone. The scene of his activities was the Order’s hospital at Lunsar where he was the medical director of the hospital.
2010: The original text (Spanish) of the new General Statutes as decided by the previous year’s General Chapter needed to be translated and approved. The translations having been done the next step in the process was for representatives of the various main languages used by the Order to meet and agree on the official texts in their respective languages. The Committee appointed for this purpose by the General Chapter met at the General Curia from 17 to 20 February. An immediate benefit of this arrangement would be that the Provincial Chapters of 2010 would have the new approved texts for guidance.
One of the first Provincial Chapters was that of the Province of Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, held at Sydney, Australia, from 1 to 4 March. This Chapter decided to change the name of the Province to that of “The Oceania Province”. The term Oceania was coined in 1831 by French explorer Dumont d’Urville and is now used to denote a ‘virtual continent’ composed of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and proximate Pacific islands.
In the series of Provincial Chapters that took up most of the first half of the year, a Chapter of the English and Irish Provinces saw both Provinces suppressed in order to allow their combination into the new West European Province. Irish Brother Laurence Kearns was elected Provincial of the new Province. This was a significant move in a general movement towards consolidation that took place at, or as a consequence of, the 2010 Chapters and included the change in status of some East European entities of the Order to become part of the Austrian Province, the merging of the Rhine and Bavarian Provinces and the and transition of the Japanese Provincial Delegation from the Bavarian Province to the Korean Province.
In June the Vietnamese Provincial, Brother Peter Pham Van Phu, and Provincial Councillor, Brother John Baptist Tran Cong Minh, arrived at Sydney, Australia, to explore the possibility of making a foundation of the Vietnamese Province in Australia. The Oceania Province supported the project and offered practical assistance in the study and, if indicated, the eventual foundation by the Vietnamese Province in the Australian city of Melbourne.
This year saw Prior General Donatus Forkan celebrating the Golden Jubilee (50th anniversary) of his first religious profession. Throughout the Order 26 other Brothers also celebrated their Golden Jubilees. Some of them accepted an invitation of the Prior General to accompany him on a thanksgiving pilgrimage to Granada. As a result, the Prior General, with 18 Brothers, visited Granada from 4 to 9 July.
In July Prior General Donatus Forkan was in East Timor to witness the President of East Timor, Dr. Ramos Horta, inaugurate the Order’s new complex at Laclubar, consisting of a Mental Health Crisis Centre, a Formation Centre, a Community Residence and a Candidates’ House. In his speech President Horta said that this was one of the most significant developments in his country since it achieved independence from Indonesia in 2002.
In Japan, in November, Japanese and Korean Brothers met for the first time as the Japan Korea Transition Committee, with APIPC President Brother Brian O’Donnell presiding, to plan the transition of the Communities and Works in Japan from the Bavarian Province to the Korean Province. The meeting set the target date for completing the transition—8 March 2012. The Committee continued to meet regularly during the remainder of 2010.
The statistics of the Order at the end of 2010 indicated that its professed membership was 1.120 Brothers (130 temporary professed and 990 solemn professed). This was a reduction of 19 temporray professed and 14 solemn professed. There had been an increase of seven in the number of novices, resulting in the total for novices being 47. The centres in which the Brothers and their Co-workers carried out their services numbered 295.
2011: This year began with a series of Regional Meetings. The first was the Asia Pacific Regional Meeting which took place at Poonamallee, India, from 30 January to 4 February. To commemorate the meeting, which had focused on the significance in Asia of the concept of “The Family of Saint John of God”, generous donations were made by the participating Provinces and Delegations to enable the construction of a house for a poor family. The combined amount donated was 273,477.38 rupees; or 4,420 Euros or 6,034 US dollars. The Indian Province’s Housing Scheme for Poor Families was initiated by the late Brother Fortunatus Thanhäuser.
In Rome, on Sunday 13 March, the Order launched “The Year of the Family of Saint John of God” with a seminar that was attended by 90 persons. In his inaugural address Prior General Donatus Forkan underlined the importance of the year ahead as an instrument for renewal and creating an awareness of the importance of the mission of Hospitality.
In China the presence and services of the Order were consolidated on 26 May by the Official Opening of the new Alzheime’s Centre at Yanji. A representative of the Governor of the Prefecture in which Yanji is located, Mrs Jin Jing Yan, declared the new centre open. The new centre, located within the Yanbian Hospice, was opened with a capacity of 23 beds.
On 25 March the French Provincial formally handed over the Hospice for the Aged at Pamplemousses to the Indian Province.
The Order returned to Croatia on 29 May with the opening of a new hospital dedicated to Saint Raphael the Archangel at Strmac to provide psychiatric services and palliative care. The Order was first established in Croatia in 1742. Due to political upheavals in the wake of the First World War the Brothers had to leave Croatia in 1918. The new hospital complex had 140 beds, of which 20 were for palliative care, while the others were for psychiatric rehabilitation.
In Spain, in connection with World Youth Day celebrations, a second “Young Hospitallers Assembly” was held (the first had taken place at Granada in 2005). This gathering of young Brothers, Co–workers and friends and supporters of John of God Hospitality in the world took place at Madrid from 12 to 21 August. The meeting had been organised by the Spanish and Portuguese Brothers and Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
During the World Youth Day celebrations, on 20 August, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Order’s Fundación Instituto S. José at Carabanchel, Madrid. A Spanish nobleman, Marquess Diego Fernández Vallejo, had founded the institute in 1898 by and confided it to the Order in the person of Saint Benedict Menni, its first Prior. The institute’s first patients were persons with epilepsy but, at the time of the papal visit, it provided 392 beds for persons with a variety of health needs. A number of Brothers connected with Instituto S. José were martyred during the Spanish Civil War and shrines dedicated to them are preserved there.
From 7 to 12 November, the Order held an International Pastoral Care Meeting in Rome with the purpose of encouraging and fostering evangelisation and pastoral care in all the Order's centres and services. The General Curia’s Pastoral Care Commission presented a document to the meeting entitled “The Order’s Evangelizing Mission and Pastoral Care”. 
2012: The year began with the profession of the first two East Timorese Brothers, Elvis do Rosario and Bonifacio Lemos da Costa, in Brazil. Soon after their profession into the hands of the Portuguese Provincial, Brother José Augusto Gaspar Lauro, the two Brothers returned to East Timor to participate in the Mission of Hospitality in their own country and to continue their spiritual and professional formation.
Two other significant professions took place in Madagascar when the Prior General, Brother Donatus accepted the vows of the first two Madagascan Brothers, Benega RamaHef Asoa and Jean Guillaume Rasolondraibe. The French Province, to which the Madagascar Community belonged, began the construction of a work for people with psychiatric illnesses. Still in the Indian Ocean, the French Province soon afterwards ceremonially transferred its Mauritius House to the Indian Province. From 25 March 2011 the Order’s presence in Mauritius had been taken over by the Indian Province. This transfer was marked and celebrated on 11 February in the presence of the Prior General, Bishop Maurice Piat and Brothers and Co-workers from both the French and the Indian Provinces.
In Korea, on 3 March, the 21st and final meeting of the Asia-Pacific Inter-Provincial Commission took place. The meeting decided to submit a petition, which was granted on 12 March, to the General Definitory to rescind General Definitory Deliberation N.249/91, of 25 February 1991, which had established what became known as the Asia-Pacific Inter-Provincial Commission. This was a consequence of the establishment of an Asia Pacific Regional Conference of Provincials. The new body, composed of the Provincials of India, Korea, Oceania and Vietnam, was expected to exercise and develop a truly Hospitaller form of leadership for mission amongst the entities of the Asia Pacific region. The Conference of Provincials was to meet at Sydney, Australia, from 4 to 6 June 2012.
Another inter-Provincial transfer took place on 6 March when a decision of the Provinces of Bavaria and Korea to integrate the Provincial Delegation of Japan into the Province of Korea was effected ceremonially on 6 March in anticipation of a canonical transfer that would come into effect on 12 March 2012.
Following a decision to replace the APIPC after its 21 years of existence with a Conference of Provincials the four Provincials of the Asia Pacific Region met and formed the Asia Pacific Provincials Conference ( APPC) during a meeting held in Sydney, Australia, from 4 to 6 June. Present were the Provincials of Oceania, India, Korea and Vietnam. The aim of the APPC was to lead and manage the mission of Hospitality in the Asia Pacific Region and to authorise and promote practical collaboration in the areas of Formation, Resourcing Missions, Finance, and Joint Projects.
The 68th General Chapter of the Order began on 22 October 2012 at Fatima, Portugal. The theme of the Chapter was “The Family of Saint John of God at the Service of Hospitality”.  The Chapter began with a total of 118 participants: 79 Capitulars, 18 Co-workers and 21 invitees (10 of whom – “Young Hospitallers” – attended for only two days). On 1 November, after a period of reflection, discernment and appropriate consultative voting, Brother Jesus Etayo Arrondo sac. was elected as the 52nd Prior General of the Order to replace Brother Donatus Forkan. At this Chapter the number of General Councillors was reduced from 6 to 4 and the Councillors elected were, in order of seniority, Brothers Rudolf Knopp (Bavarian Province), Giampietro Luzzato (Lambardo-Veneta Province) Benigno Ramos sac. (Castillian Province) and Brother Pascal Ahodegnan (Africa Vice-Province). The new Prior General, a member of the Aragon Province, was 54 years old when elected and had been ordained since 1985.
2013: The newly established Asia Pacific Provincials Conference (APPC) met in Vietnam from 28 to 30 January with the General Delegate Brother Joseph Smith. The group embraced and supported the initiative of the General Government in establishing the key leadership role of General Delegate for the Asia Pacific Region, recognizing the new expression of relational and inclusive leadership for the region. The meeting spent time reflecting on the experience of the recent General Chapter, particularly taking up the themes of identity and mission. In shaping a plan for the future the participants were ably assisted by the facilitation of Father Michael Mullins SM who used a process of Pastoral Reflection. The first and essential element of the plan for the region was in regard to cooperation and coordination. Central in the thinking of the APPC was the establishment of a “Regional Centre For Hospitaller Formation” by 2014. The main focus of such a centre would be the formation of Formators. This line of action was identified as essential to the future of our Order in the Asia Pacific Region.
The General Chapter of 2012 addressed the need for a reorganization of the General Curia. To this end, an international commission had prepared a basic document for the Chapter. The 2012 General Chapter asked the new government to present a proposed reorganization of the General Curia at the next General Assembly of the Order’s Major Superiors (scheduled to begin on 14 October 2013). The commission to draw up the proposal met for the first time on 27 and 28 February. It was composed of three Brothers and 2 Co-workers.
On Wednesday 13 March, Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio S.J., Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected Pope to replace Pope Emeritas Benedict XVI after his resignation. At the time of the election of Pope Francis the Order in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia was organised into the Southern South American Province with its headquarters at Ramos Mejia in Argentina. In Argentina it had two other houses – at Lujan and Hurlingham.     
Monday 24 June was a significant day in the Order’s modern history. It began with the Prior General and other Brothers attending Pope Francis’s Mass at Casa Santa Marta. The Prior General, Brother Jesús Etayo, being a priest was able to concelebrate with Pope Francis and meet him after Mass, when he invited the Pope to visit the Order’s hospital on the Tiber Island. Later in the day the Prior General opened the first meeting the Enlarged General Definitory Council which included the two Regional Delegates, Brother Joseph Smith (Asia-Pacific and North America) and Brother Jairo Enrique Urueta (Latin America). This meeting was saddened to learn that the same day had seen the demise in Australia of Brother Fabian Hynes  85 years). A qualified pharmacist, he had been called Rome in 1955 and in 1956 was appointed to manage the Vatican Pharmacy, where he remained until 2006. He served for many years as the Prior of the Vatican Pharmacy Religious Community. At the 1970 General Chapter he was elected Second General Councillor and in 1976, the General Chapter appointed him First General Councillor and Procurator General. He remained Procurator General until 2006 when he finally left the Vatican Pharmacy after more than 50 years of service and exemplary dedication to the mission entrusted to him.
In August the Order entered into an agreement with the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a consequence the two Institutes will cooperate in the management of the Brussels office, named “Hospitality Europe”, whose the main purpose is to promote the values of Hospitality within the institutions of the European Union. This agreement was signed on 7 August by Brother Jesús Etayo and the Superior General of the Sisters, Sister Anabela Moreira Carneiro.
October 13, 2013 saw the beatification of 24 Brothers who were amongst the 522 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War who were beatified in front of a large crowd at Tarragona in Spain. A number of major superiors of the Order had gone from a meeting in Rome to the ceremonies at Tarragon. Already 71 Brothers who had been killed during the bloody Spanish Civil War (1936-1938) had already been beatified by Pope John Paul II.
On 21 October Prior General met Pope Francis in private audience after the Pope had celebrated Mass at the House of St Martha where he lives. In their private discussions the Prior General informed the Pope about the situation and challenges of the Order and invited him to visit the Order’s hospital on the Tiber Island.
On Sunday, October 27, the Order officially withdrew from Perugia, where they were installed by Brother Pedro Soriano, the first Prior General of the Order, after 429 years of service to the people of that city in the St Nicholas Hospital for Incurable Diseases , founded in 1584. The Brothers never abandoned their work even though in 1860, as a result of anticlericalism, the hospital was confiscated and entrusted to a body called the Municipal Charity of Perugia. An agreement was obtained to the Brothers being allowed to stay in Perugia and continue their pastoral care of the aged. In 1996, the health authorities of Perugia transferred the elderly from St. Nicholas to the "House of Seppilli ". While remaining at St. Nicholas the Brothers continued their commitment to the religious and apostolic services to the patients in their new location.
On 15 November the Order’s new Scholastic Formation Centre was inaugurated at Nairobi, enabling Brother Scholastics in the first and second year to study Spirituality and to carry out professional training courses at “Tangaza College”. The inauguration ceremony was held during the Mass at which the Auxiliary Bishop of Nairobi, Msgr David Kamau, presided and was concelebrated by the  Prior General of the Order, Brother Jesús Etayo. Also present for the occasion was the former Prior General Donatus Forkan under whose guidance the Formation Centre was planned and constructed.
On 16 November 2013 the first Filipino member of the Order to be ordained, Brother Ildephonse  (Eldy) de Castro received ordination at Manila. The ordaining prelate was Bishop Edgardo Juanich, Vicar Apostolic of Taytay. Brother Eldy was Provincial Delegate. 
The month of August 2014 saw a rapid escalation of the frequently-fatal Ebola epidemic in West Africa. The Order’s hospitals in Liberia and Sierra Leone were both effective and virtually closed by the epidemic. On 2 August African Brother Patrick Patrick Nshamdze died of Ebola at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. A few days later the Spanish Brother Miguel Pajares, Superior of the hospital community was repatriated to Spain but died there. On 11 August the Prior General communicated to the Order that, on 11 August, African Brother George Combey died in the Elwa Hospital in Monrovia. Also a victim of Ebola was the Spanish Brother Manuel Garcia Viejo. Previously, on 9 August, Sister Chantal Pascaline, a Missionary of the Immaculate Conception, died at our St Joseph’s Hospital. As well as these Religious, Ebola also took the lives of two Co-workers who died at the Elwa Hospital. In Sierra Leone the Order reduced the extent of the hospital’s services in line with the current situation because there were hardly any patients left as a result of the Ebola epidemic. 
2015: On 19 January the long planned fusion of the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd and the Order took place at Albuquerque in New Mexico, USA. A very suitable preliminary to the fusion was a midnight vigil on Sunday 18 January. During the period of prayer and reflection the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd (every member of the institute was present) surrendered their religious habits, Good Shepherd Crucifixes and membership of the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd. Then, at midnight, according to the decree of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, every Brother of the Good Shepherd automatically became members of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God with their perpetual vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience becoming solemn vows. However, the vow of Hospitality was not automatically bestowed on them. They made that vow into the hands of the Prior General later that day – at the 4 p.m. Mass in the main church of Albuquerque – that of St Philip Neri which dates its first construction to 1706. At the same time the General Definitory of the Order officially erected the Province of the Good Shepherd in North America. The new Province comprises the Centres of the Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd in North America (United States, Canada and Haiti) which were incorporated into the Order on the same day, the houses of the Canadian General Delegation and the Centre at Westville Grove (USA) which had previously belonged to the West Europe Province. The headquarters of the new Province would be in Hamilton in Canada. Bro. Justin Howson has been appointed Provincial.
On 20 January 2015 the Order launched its “Year of the Hospitaller Vocation”. The last General Chapter called for 2015 to be a Hospitaller Vocation Year. Under the motto "Come and see Hospitality" the intention was to put across more powerfully the vocation to Hospitality in all its dimensions, including Brothers and Co-workers. Various materials, including a Vocational Testimony each day, began to appear on the General Curia’s website.

Last entry on 20 January 2015

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Papua New Guinea

The Order expanded from Australia to Papua New Guinea in 1971 while that country was still under Australian administration. For ten years the Order conducted the Cheshire Home in Port Moresby for the Cheshire Foundation Homes of Papua New Guinea. Today the Order in Papua New Guinea is orientated towards rural health care and most Papua New Guinean members train in that area of health service. The Brothers are responsible for a number of church and community activities. The two most important of these is the Rohanoka Addictions Centre at Wewak and the Walamu Community Health Centre near Nuku in the Sandaun Province.

 The following is a more detailed outline of the history of the Order in Papua New Guinea:

In 1971 the Order responded to an invitation from Archbishop Virgil Copas to come to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, to take charge of the Cheshire Home in the suburb of Hohola. The Cheshire Home was for children with physical and learning disabilities. The Province accepted the Archbishop’s invitation and Brothers Brian O’Donnell and William Lebler were the first Brothers of Saint John of God to live and work in Papua New Guinea. The Community that the Brothers established at Hohola remained in existence until 1981 when the Order passed responsibility for the Cheshire Home to a local committee.

In the meantime, in 1976, the Order responded to an invitation from Church and civil authorities to establish a health centre in the village of Kamina in the highlands of the Gulf Province. At Kamina, over many years, the Brothers would provide a wide range of health services to the people of a very isolated part of the country. Part of the Order’s development of Kamina was the construction of an airstrip on one of the slopes of the Hauakampka Valley.

The two Communities of Hohola and Kamina maintained close contact. In 1979 Australian Brother Steven Richmond was living and working at the Cheshire Home and serving as National Director of Catholic Health. In connection with his duties as National Director he decided to visit two Catholic Health Care Centres in the Gulf Province – Kanabea and Kamina. The date set for him to visit Kamina was Monday November 5, 1979. The Brothers at Kamina were expecting Brother Steven on that day and in the middle of the afternoon they heard the sound of an approaching aircraft. However it was not the expected airplane carrying Brother Steven and several friends of the Brothers from Port Moresby. It was a helicopter whose pilot had come to bring the tragic news that Brother Steven had been killed in an air crash. He had died earlier in the day when the Douglas Airways Islander plane in which he was travelling came down at Huabango, near Bema Catholic Mission, about two ridges away from Kamina.

Brother Steven Richmond was the first Brother of Saint John of God to die in P.N.G. With him were killed a travelling companion from Hohola, Parisi Kora (13years), and the Principal of Malalau Community School in the Gulf Province. Seven passengers were injured, three seriously, including the pilot – New Zealander Phil Anderson.

Brother Steven’s body was flown to Sydney and interred at Rookwood Cemetery. A qualified psychiatric nurse, he was 31 years of age and had been a professed member of the Order for 7 years. As time passed, Papua New Guinean men began to enter the Order. A decision was made in 1983 to accept candidates on a probationary basis.  The first three eventually left the Order but as time went on postulancy and novitiate programmes were established.

Amongst the Papua New Guineans who tried their vocation at Kamina was a postulant named Gabriel Bali. In 1987 he became ill and had to be sent to Port Moresby General Hospital for treatment. When Gabriel realised that his death from a life-long disease was close, he chose to return to his religious family at Kamina, rather than go home to his natural family and his own village in West New Britain Province.  After a short time back at Kamina, during which he gave great examples of patience and acceptance, Gabriel died on Saturday August 29, 1987.  He was buried at Kamina and a plaque to his memory is still there today. He was 29 years old.

The following year, on December 30, 1988, the first two Papua New Guinean Brothers made profession of religious vows in the Order. Their vows were received by the Prior General of the Order who had travelled to Kamina for the occasion.  

In 1988 the Order decided to establish another Community in Papua New Guinea. Aitape in the Sandaun Province was chosen because it could provide nurse and community health worker training for newly professed Brothers.

By 1989 the Brothers were again looking for another suitable location for a house of the Order in Papua New Guinea. They chose Port Moresby because it was the national capital and offered a variety of educational facilities that could be accessed by newly professed Brothers. To facilitate this return to Port Moresby Brother Damian Keane established a transit house in another Port Moresby suburb – Gordons. Then in 1991 the Brothers returned to the Cheshire Home. The home was struggling to survive and Leonard Cheshire, the founder of the Home, appealed to the Brothers to return. Brother Lyall Forde was the Superior of this Community and it became the location of the postulancy programme.

In 1992 the Brothers accepted an invitation to start a recovery centre for Church people struggling with addiction problems. Brother William Lebler and Brother Augustine Taiwa were chosen to start this work. Clients were admitted in August 1993. The Centre was called Rohanoka and was first located at Goroka but was transferred later to Wewak. 

In 1994 the Brothers withdrew from Kamina where they had lived and worked for eighteen years. Much good work had been done at Kamina and the Order felt it was time to hand over to the local people.
In 1995 the Brothers withdrew from any official involvement with the Cheshire Home due to difficulties with the Management Committee. The Brothers however remained on the site until 1999 in buildings that they had constructed for the use of the Community.

In 1997 the Brothers were invited to consider a bush mission at Walamu in the Nuku District of Sandaun Province. In the beginning the Brothers cared for the medical needs of the students and teachers at St. Francis High School. Later they became involved in many different medical situations in the surrounding region. They also became very committed to leadership of Church activities in the area.

Throughout the history of the Order in Papua New Guinea  the Brothers have served the Church and the people on a wide front. One such Brother was Augustine Taiwa of East New Britain Province who had made first profession in the Order in 1991. He worked in the area of addictions counselling and youth welfare and was widely recognised as an effective campaigner against domestic violence – particularly when perpetrated upon women. In 2006 he was serving at Bomana, Port Moresby, as Director of the Xavier Institute – an on-going formation centre for priests and religious.

On August 28, 2006, Brother Augustine went to Port Moresby on business connected with the Institute. During his return journey he stopped near Bomana to make a small purchase from a road-side seller. As his vehicle came to a halt a young man rushed forward brandishing an iron rod. He struck Brother Augustine with the improvised weapon and immediate death ensued. Brother Augustine was 43 years old. His body of Brother Augustine was taken to Aitape where he was interred in the garden of the Brothers’ residence.

The deaths, while on active service, of Brothers Steven Richmond and Augustine Taiwa and Postulant Gabriel Bali, are an integral part of the history of the Order in Papua New Guuinea.

In 2009, the Communities and Works of the Order in Papua New Guinea being a Delegation of the Oceania Province, a decision was taken to relocate the headquarters of the Delegation from Wewak to Madang. This decision was based on a need to improve communications between the Delegation and the rest of the Province and the Order.

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Juan Ciudad Follows His Star to Granada

1 of 20 Birth and Infancy Childhood and Adolescence

In 1495, when the Iberian Peninsula was abuzz with reports of Columbus’s discovery of the New World, at Montemor O Novo in Portugal, a son was born into the family of Andrew Cidade. His parents named him João (John) and lovingly nurtured him as their only child. The family was middle class and it seemed likely that young John was destined to live a comfortable, ordinary sort of life, eventually taking over the family business - the marketing of garden-produce.

However, John's destiny was shaped by an event that, effectively, destroyed the Cidade family. When he was only eight years old John was taken from the Cidade home by a cleric and transported some 300 kilometres, across the border, into Spain and to the domain of Count Fernando Alvarez de Oropesa who entrusted his upbringing to Don Francisco de Herruz, a gentleman-farmer who owed allegiance to the Count.

Don Francisco de Herruz lived at Torralba de Oropesa and he made a place in his home there for John. When John grew a little older he was put to work with the shepherds under the tutelage and supervision of a flock-master whom everyone referred to as 'el mayoral' (the boss). Taught his trade and guided by ‘el mayoral’, John grew out of adolescence and passed to manhood as a well trained, trustworthy and competent shepherd.

2 of 20 Early Manhood First Military Campaign, Second Military Campaign

In 1523 Spain was at war with France at Fuentarrabía on the Spanish/French border. The Count of Oropesa sent a company of men-at-arms from his estates to the conflict. John, now well into his twenties, was included in this force and went off to war excited by thoughts of the adventures that lay ahead of him. Some of those adventures would endanger his life.

The first adventure took John close to the French lines where his horse unseated him and he fell to the ground unconscious. On regaining consciousness John realised that he was in mortal danger of being found by the enemy. Fearful for his life John prayed to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, for rescue or for the strength to save himself. Gradually his head cleared and he was able to crawl and hobble, back to his own lines. For the remainder of his life he attributed his deliverance to the intercession of Mary.

John’s next escapade almost resulted in his death. He was put on guard over some booty taken from the French. His country-boy naivety allowed some scroungers to steal and carry off the booty. Enraged by the loss, his immediate superior ordered that John be executed as a sentry who had failed in his duty.

John was standing on the scaffold, noose around his neck, when another officer, riding by, stopped and asked what was happening. When he learned the circumstances that had brought John to the gibbet he revoked the sentence. However, John was immediately “dishonourably discharged” from his unit and sent home.

It was a humbled John who made his way back to Oropesa where he resumed the only trade he knew - shepherding.

Then, in 1532, the King of Spain became involved in the campaign to resist the Ottoman invasion of central Europe. Count Francisco Alvarez personally led the Oropesa contingent to join the King’s forces near Vienna. In his retinue he took John – this time as a soldier-servant.

In his second military campaign John had no misadventures and, because of his helpfulness and kindness, came to be well regarded by all. When hostilities ended he returned with his Count by ship to Spain where the Oropesa party disembarked at the north-western port of La Coruña.

3 of 20 Return to Spain and the Region of Seville

John decided that, rather than go back to Oropesa, he would like to visit the scenes of his early childhood in Portugal. With the Count’s permission, he made his way south to Montemor O Novo - a distance of some 550 kilometres.  

On arrival there he unsuccessfully sought his parents. Eventually he found an old uncle who told him that both his parents were dead. His mother had died a few days after his abrupt departure for Spain and his father, become a widower and childless, had joined a Franciscan community in Lisbon to live the life of a monk until he died.

John was deeply disturbed by what had happened to his parents and decided that, as the only surviving member of his family, he should put his life at God’s service.

He felt that, like his father, he had to leave familiar places in order to find God’s will for him. John and his uncle, who did not expect to meet again, sadly took leave of each other and John once more left the village that he had known so well as a child.

From Montemor O Novo John went back again into Spain and gradually made his way south towards Andalusia and its capital, Seville.

On his 250 kilometre journey from Montemor O Novo to Seville John did some odd jobs along the way to get money for food and accommodation along the way. As he approached Seville he met up with other travellers whose eyes were fixed on the New World for which Seville was a departure point. John too may have felt attracted to the Indies or the Americas. To earn money for his passage or for some other reason John took employment as a shepherd for a few months on the estates of a noblewoman named Doña Leonor de Zúñiga near Seville. He later told people that, while working for her ladyship, he was struck by the great care that people would take of their animals while being quite careless about the needs of poor and sick human beings.

4 of 20 To North Africa and Ceuta

From near Seville John travelled on foot to Gibraltar where he met a Portuguese knight, Don Luis de Almeida, who was preparing to cross to the Portuguese colony of Ceuta in North Africa with his wife and family. John, attracted perhaps by the prospect of free passage and a livelihood in Ceuta, entered the service of Don Luis and sailed to that city with the Almeida family.

John’s new master quickly used up his modest finances and became insolvent. Although he was no longer being paid a wage John felt that he could not desert the family when the mother and children became ill. He decided to obtain survival money for the household of Don Luis by taking work on the fortifications being erected at Ceuta to protect the city against pirates. This project was carried out, essentially by convict work gangs, from 1536 to 1538. However, the fortifications were urgent so work was also available for unskilled, and casual, day-labourers. John worked as a day-labourer on the fortifications and gave his pay each evening to Don Luis, thus enabling all of them to eat enough to keep body and soul together.

Under a North African sun and harsh overseers the hired labourers were treated more like convicts than employees. From time to time John and his companions were so badly treated that they talked about giving it all up. However, they were virtually destitute in a penal colony and lacked the money necessary for a berth on a ship to the mainland. Some of them, in desperation, escaped by taking refuge in the nearby Muslim City of Tituan where, of necessity, they converted to Islam.

When one of John's friends did this he reacted by blaming himself for not having been a better example and companion to his friend. Assailed by feelings of guilt John spoke with a Franciscan friar who, seeking his penitent’s faith being weakened, instructed him to leave Ceuta immediately and return to Spain. John, in an act of obedience that required him to commit the de Almeida family to God’s providence, returned to Gibraltar.

5 of 20 Peddler of Books goes to Granada

John had become more thoughtful about spiritual things and he spent his first days in Gibraltar visiting its various churches. In the market place one day he noticed some religious books and pictures on sale. He decided to invest his modest financial resources in some of the books and pictures and to make a small profit by re-selling them in the villages and market towns of the Andalusian countryside.

John had embarked on the life of an itinerant book peddler. He liked the life. He began to carry a few secular books to attract the interest of people who were not immediately drawn to the religious. John was now in his forties and, as the seasons changed from summer through autumn to winter, “it seeming to him to be rather burdensome to be always going up hill and down dale, from place to place, with his pack (of books), he decided to go to Granada and settle down there”.

Why Granada? No doubt John had often heard glowing accounts of this city which had seen the reunification of Spain as a Christian nation. Even as a child at Oropesa John would have heard of Granada in connection with the life of his illustrious fellow Oropesan, Hernando de Talavera, who was the first Archbishop of Granada.

Legend offers a mystical explanation for John’s choice of Granada when it recounts that one day, while John was on the road peddling his books, he rested by a small stream near the village of Gauzín about 50 kilometres north of Gibraltar. On the bank of the stream he saw a small boy who held out a pomegranate (granada, in Spanish) to him saying, “John of God, know that Granada will be your cross and through it you will see Jesus in glory.” Whatever his motivation John made the fateful decision to go to Granada.

6 of 20 Conversion and Hospitalisation

Soon after setting up a bookstall near the Elvira Gate – the main entrance to Granada – John attended the city’s celebration of the feast of the St. Sebastian at the Hermitage of the Martyrs on the slopes of the Alhambra - the Moorish complex of citadels, palaces and gardens that dominates the city. On this occasion the occasional sermon was preached by the noted theologian and spiritual director, Master John de Ávila.

In his sermon Ávila focused the folly of anyone who refused to allow their guilt from various sins to be dissolved by the limitless mercy of their Heavenly Father. God. John recognised that this challenged him to change his attitude to life and his way of living it.

As soon as the sermon ended John began shouting out that he needed and wanted God's mercy. He was so distraught that observers concluded that he had lost his reason and when he ran off towards the town some young men ran after him shouting "Crazy, crazy".

In the place where he slept and stored his merchandise John began to rip apart his romantic novels and books on secular subjects and to give away his books on religion and the lives of saints. Finally he tore off all his clothing except a shirt and a pair of trousers and ran to the main church of the city where he knelt, crying out: "Mercy! Mercy, Lord God, on this great sinner who has so offended you!"

Some concerned citizens took John from the church to see Father John de Ávila. The good priest talked with John and was impressed by his sincerity. He accepted him as a spiritual son and agreed to guide his spiritual growth – even though his acts of self-abnegation could draw unwelcome attention to him.

John did not see humiliation as unwelcome and he went to the nearby Plaza Bibarrambla where threw himself on the ground and rolled about in the mud. Putting slime from the ground into his mouth he shouted out all the sins that he remembered having committed: John kept this up for three days; often falling exhausted from hunger, cold and lack of sleep.

7 of 20 A Dream, to Guadalupe and return to Granada

Two charitable men took John from Plaza Bibarrambla to the Royal Hospital and asked that he be treated with kindness and to put somewhere on his own where he would not see anyone and could rest.

However, the personnel of the hospital had their own way of treating mental illness – with flogging and submersion in cold water. John was stripped naked, tied up and lashed with a double knotted whip.

John’s desire for himself to be humbled did not blind him to the situation of his fellow patients who were receiving the same kind of treatment. He asked the warders why they enjoyed inflicting pain on those in their care when it would be more therapeutic to wash them and feed them and treat them like human beings.

John’s time in hospital gave him a sense of purpose and a dream that he expressed in a prayer that he used to offer at that time: "May Jesus Christ bring me to the time, and grant me the favour, of having a hospital where I can receive the poor and abandoned mentally ill and serve them as I wish."

To facilitate his release from the hospital and the achievement of his dream John desisted from his ‘mad’ behaviour and began to act sensibly. He began to try to improve the conditions of his fellow patients by cleaning the wards and latrines. For some months he worked in the hospital as an unpaid auxiliary nurse.

In time John received a certificated discharge from the hospital. In threadbare clothing, head uncovered and barefooted he left Granada to go to see Father John de Ávila at Baeza, a town about 100 kilometres from Granada, where he now lived. Ávila sent John on an even longer journey before he returned to Granada. He sent him on pilgrimage to Guadalupe where he could deepen his spirituality in prayer at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe and also learn some nursing and medical skills in the excellent hospitals located around the shrine.

After some time at Guadalupe preparing himself spiritually and in every other way for his mission in Granada, John returned to Baeza to report to his spiritual father who then sent him on to Granada to realise his dream in working with “the poor and abandoned mentally ill”.

8 of 20 From Casa Venegas to the Fishmarket

Back in Granada John was remembered as “The Madman”. When he reappeared in the city he was quickly noticed and some people began to jeer at him and ridicule him. He took all this in good part and answered the jeers good-humouredly with a remark that nobody who had not grown up in Portugal could fully understand: "Brothers and sisters, what you see before you in me is like the game of Birlimbao, the game in which you plainly see three galleys and a ship but in which the more you see the less you know what is really happening." He was referring to a Portuguese children’s game in which the main player’s eyes are covered and he or she has to work out a riddle while being distracted by the other children chanting doggerel about false numbers of ships. This was John’s way of saying that there was more to him and his life than could be judged from appearances.

John fed himself by collecting and selling firewood and he slept under a bridge. An important citizen and admirer of Father Ávila, Don Miguel Aviz Venegas, offered John improved shelter at night – in the entrance to his house. This was, in fact, a commodious vestibule with a nightwatchman and his fire.

John was meeting men and women who, unlike him, had no place to sleep. Until he could do something about this situation he decided to take them back with him to shelter at the Venegas house. This caused some problems for the Venegas household and Don Miguel soon encouraged John to contact a group, founded by Father Ávila, that was also working in the Fishmarket area with the homeless. This group, under the leadership of Juan Loarte, had set up a shelter “to which they brought all the destitute ones that they came across in the streets.”

John’s association with this work in the Fishmarket area soon brought him to the point of renting larger premises. For this house in the street named Lucena he bought some second-hand blankets and rush mats for his residents to sleep on. Then some charitable women of the city gave John some beds so that the sick would be more comfortable and his refuge gained the extra dimension that made it into a hospital.

9 of 20 Questing and Mission to the Prostitutes

To feed the people in his care John had to go out begging in the streets of the city. Each evening he went from house to house with a large basket over his shoulder and two pots in his hands. As he went along each street he called out: "Brothers and sisters, who wants to do themselves some good? Who wants to do some good for the love of God?"

People responded generously to John’s appeal for help and they gave him money, bread, meat or leftovers from the family’s own meal. When John arrived back at his hospital he would heat up the food and share it out. After the meal was over he cleaned up, tidied the house and brought back fresh water for the night from the nearby public cistern.

John's spirituality focused on the passion and death of Jesus of Nazareth. He felt that there was only one thing worthwhile in life—to eliminate evil that had brought about the Saviour’s death; and then to promote the good that reflected the Father’s infinite love for his children. John saw great evil in the oppression of women by prostitution. So, once a week he went to one of the brothels of the town to try to persuade at least one of the women there to give up her dehumanising and sinful way of life. When he met with one of the prostitutes he would kneel and accuse himself of his own sins and pray aloud for God’s pardon. Often the woman would be moved by this experience to reject her own life of vice and agree to leave the brothel with John.

The restoration of a prostitute to normal life was a serious endeavour. Some of these women became helpers in his hospital and cared for the children he had taken in. Others felt drawn to a life of repentance and he placed them with convents of nuns. Most wanted to marry and he found husbands and provided dowries for them. His Friday visits to the brothels were only the first (and easiest) acts in some long-running life dramas in which John of God became involved. Once, after an absence from Granada seeking alms, he returned in time to be present at a ceremony in which sixteen of his ‘ladies’ married at the one time.

10 of 20 Reconciliation - the Basis of a Brotherhood, and a Second Hospital

As John made his way around Granada he became aware of the serious conflict in which two men in the city were involved. The men were Antón Martín who was seeking the execution of the murderer of his brother, and Pedro Velasco whom Antón accused of the murder and who was then languishing in prison.

One day John and Antón encountered one another in the street named Calle Colcha and John, probably not for the first time, asked Antón to forgive the killer of his brother. This time, in desperation, John dropped to his knees in the street and implored Antón, by the Passion of Christ, to forgive the man who had wronged him and his family.

Antón was moved to forgiveness by John’s actions and words and the two went together to the prison of the city where Antón withdrew his accusation and Pedro was released. The reconciliation of the two men bore fruit in their going together to John’s hospital and asking if they could join him in his mission. Although John had never sought followers to live with him and serve the poor, he accepted with equanimity the spontaneous formation of a brotherhood around him. After his death this brotherhood would survive and eventually become the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God.

Some of John’s supporters recommended to him that he buy an available building on the Los Gomeles Rise, near the Alhambra gardens, so that he could transfer his hospital there from the centre of the city. John, seeing the advantages of the new site, agreed and, with money that he had collected and donations of his benefactors, he purchased the property for 400 ducats.

The move to ‘Los Gomeles’ was the watershed in the process of John’s acceptance by the people of Granada. After moving to his second hospital John ‘never looked back’ as far as public acceptance and support was concerned. While still near the Fishmarket he had been seen by some people as a dubious character who had been treated for psychiatric illness and attracted to himself the riffraff of the city.

11 of 20 A Name and Special Attire

One day John dined with his friend Don Miguel Muñoz, the Bishop of Tuy – a city some 80 kilometres from Granada. At dinner Muñoz asked John how people referred to him in the city. The man whom some had already dubbed “John of the Poor” replied that he was known simply as 'John'. The bishop said to John that he should be called 'John of God'. John acquiesced to that, saying: "If God so wishes". From then on everyone began to call him 'John of God'.

The bishop also seems to have been in a mood to settle, while still in Granada, how John would be seen, called and dressed in the future. John of God was prone to exchange whatever he was wearing at the time with poor men whom he met on the street who needed new clothes. This exchange often left John of God wearing very ragged and smelly clothing. However, as the bishop said to John of God, this meant that his clothing could disgust and repulse people who were devoted to him and invited him to their table.

So the bishop said: "Brother John of God, just as you take that name from here for the rest of your life, you will take also the way to clothe yourself. So now you are to dress yourself in underwear, serge trousers and a flannel tunic."

John of God agreed to this and the bishop immediately sent someone out to buy these items which were readily available in the marketplace and he presented the articles to John of God with his own hands. John of God wore this form of dress until the day he died. And those of his companions who emulated his ascetical and dedicated life-style did the same.

12 of 20 A Third Hospital Conceived

While John of God was occupied in running his hospital in its second location, a group of his supporters had concluded that his hospital should have better and more permanent accommodation. In the month of December, although the exchange of Christmas visits preoccupied the nobility of Granada, time was found for a meeting at the Alhambra between the Marquis de Mondéjar, Doña Francisca and Doña Leonor Cáceres (mother and daughter), and Father Diego de Linares, the Prior of the Jeronymite Friars. They soon called in Father John de Ávila  and then went to talk things over with Archbishop Gaspar de Avalos. In this meeting it was decided that no further additions should be made to the Los Gomeles hospital and that they should look for land on which to build a new hospital for John of God. They expected to begin the construction of such a hospital with funds that could be made available for such a purpose from the legacy of a bishop of Gaudix for whom Don Gaspar de Avalos, although no longer Archbishop of Granada, was executor.

The following year work began on the construction of the new hospital on land that had been made available by the Jeronymite monks through the good offices of Prior Diego de Linares.The land given by the Jeronymites was insufficient for the planned hospital and Doña Francisca went and discussed the matter with the authorities of the city. They acceded to Doña Francisca’s request and gave land that could have been set aside for a public street to be used for the construction of the hospital.

Although John of God knew that this was happening he seems to have given all his attention to the day to day problems of maintaining the existing hospital.

13 of 20 A Day in the Hospital of St. John of God

A typical day in John of God’s hospital began with him appearing at dawn and inviting everyone: "Brothers and sisters, let’s give thanks to Our Lord just like the little birds are doing."

Then he led the patients and residents in some prayers while one of his brothers went to the itinerants’ kitchen and did the same there. For itinerants and beggars who did not need nursing John of God had set up within his hospital a ‘night shelter’. It could comfortably accommodate up to two hundred people and had its own kitchen. John of God knew what it was like to be an itinerant so he would speak to each of them before they left, giving them whatever help he could, especially with clothing donated to him for that purpose.

Not all the itinerants would be leaving that day so John of God would say to them: "Come on brothers, let us go and do something for Christ's poor people!" Then he would lead them up onto the slopes of the Alhambra to collect firewood. Each of them, John of God included, would bring back a big bundle of firewood for the house or the poor.

Before leaving the house to seek the alms and help that the hospital needed John would make sure that everyone knew what he or she had to do during the rest of the day. His own questing often took him away from the hospital for long hours and then he would not return home until late at night. Before retiring to pray and sleep he would go around and visit each patient with a few friendly words and an enquiry as to whether they needed anything for the night.

14 of 20 The Ashamed Poor

Before John of God went down into the city begging, he would go up Los Gomeles and through the Imperial Gate into the grounds of the Alhambra. Waiting for him there would be some of his ‘ashamed’ poor. These were people who had not been born into poverty but had been made poor by the inflation that had overtaken Spain as a result of the inflow of wealth from the New World and the demands of its colonisers for supplies and equipment from home. This brought about the imbalance between available currency and available goods that we know today as inflation. It was a new experience for Spain of that time and people on a fixed income saw its purchasing power shrivel to almost nothing. Amongst these were spinsters and single mothers and retired clerks and other functionaries. Their previous experience of life and their treasured standing in the community made it very difficult, if not psychologically impossible, for them to beg. When John of God heard about such people he would go to see them and he took many of them under his wing. He begged for them also and bought them bread, meat, fish, charcoal and the other things they needed to survive.

His ‘ashamed’ poor who had urgent needs would wait for him each morning in the lower grounds of the Alhambra. Some of them looked more prosperous than he did. If anyone were to say to him that he was being duped by some of these people he would reply: "They are not cheating me. That's something for which they themselves are answerable. For my part, I am simply giving for the love of God.”

15 of 20 A Friend and First Co-worker

John of God’s closest companions and some volunteers helped him look after the poor and the sick people who came into his care.

However, John of God saw the need for someone, left relatively free from the daily routine of the hospital, to accompany him as he went about the city and into the countryside and, at other times, to stand in for him, as major-domo, when he was away from the house. So, he employed a man whom he had come to know for his practical bent and his holy life. The man’s name was Juan de Ávila. This was the same name as John’s spiritual guide and, initially, caused some confusion. John solved this eventually by giving his employee a nickname: Angulo.

The relationship between the two men developed into one of deep affection and trust. John of God took Agulo with him on all his travels and he often commissioned him to take messages to his benefactors and to collect donations on his behalf. Their relationship lasted until John of God’s death. Then Angulo continued to serve John’s hospital for many more years, until his death in 1583.

16 of 20 An Ascetic Visits the Royal Court

Anyone who met John of God would have known immediately that they had met an ascetic. John of God travelled everywhere on foot. He never wore coverings on either his head or feet with the result that, on a journey, his feet became scarred and stubbed and his scalp became sunburned and scaled. He wore nothing but a pair of rough woollen breeches with a tunic tied around the waist by a cord. At the table, when he was away from home and invited to dine with others, he always chose the least preferred portions. (At home he usually ate a baked onion or some other common sort of food.) He slept on a coarse mat on the floor with a thin blanket as covering.

Late in the Spring of 1548 this ascetical figure arrived at Valladolid to attend the court of the Prince Regent (who would become Philip II of Spain) and to seek alms for his work in Granada from the Prince.

When the Prince and John of God met for the first time, John said: "My Lord, I am accustomed to calling everyone my brother or sister in Christ; you are my Sovereign and Lord and King (sic) and I owe you obedience, how would you have me address you?” The Prince replied: "John, address me as you wish." Then, because at that time Prince Philip was Regent and not yet King, John of God said: "Then I shall call you good Prince."

The Prince was impressed by John of God’s account of his work and the support that his courtiers and sisters were giving to John’s appearance at court and his appeals. He instructed his quartermaster, a man whose family name was Angulo, to give some alms to John from the royal exchequer.  

John of God himself was constantly being asked for alms by people in need – and he never refused. However, it seemed paradoxical to some people that John of God was giving away at Valladolid the alms that he was collecting there to resolve his debt problems at Granada. One of those persons asked him: "Brother John of God, why don't you keep your money and take it back to your poor at Granada?" His reply was: "Brother, to give it here or to give it at Granada, it's all for God who is everywhere."

17 of 20 Back Home for the Angulo Wedding and A Fire at the Royal Hospital

John of God’s visit to Valladolid was successful and he gathered enough alms to be able to meet his most pressing debts back in Granada. Now he felt the desire to return to Granada before Winter began to exert its harsh pressures on his people there. So he said his farewells and left for Granada. John would not arrive there empty handed – some of his benefactors at Valladolid gave him promissory notes that could be cashed only in Granada.

The poor and the ordinary citizens of Granada were happy to see John of God back amongst them again. They recognised that he served their city and added lustre to its image and reputation. He immediately settled the debts that had sent him to Valladolid.

John of God now had less than a year to live. In his weariness and ill-health he had the happiness, on 14 May 1549, of seeing his friend Angulo married to Beatriz de Ayvar. The marriage was registered at the Church of Saint Ana but the ceremony took place at John of God’s hospital on Los Gomeles.

Some three months after that wedding other nuptials in Granada were to have a less happy result. At the Royal Hospital, on July 3, 1549, there was a banquet in honour of Doña Magdalena de Bobadilla. In the kitchens of the hospital a big fire was lit to roast an ox stuffed with small birds and various spices and seasonings. About 11 a.m. the fire got out of control and began to spread through the hospital.

When John of God heard of the fire he rushed to the scene. His intimate knowledge of the layout of the hospital enabled him to go immediately to the place where the psychiatric patients were housed. Ignoring personal danger he began to get them out of the building.

When he had rescued the patients John rushed back to where the fire was raging to help put it out. He began hurling beds and bedding from the windows. Suddenly a great sheet of flame engulfed him and billows of smoke poured out onto the people outside. Everyone concluded that the flames had consumed John of God. Then he emerged from the building without a mark on him, except for singed eyebrows. Many people who saw all this considered that he had had a miraculous escape from the fire and death.

18 of 20 Drowning of a Youth; Summoned to the Archbishop

The last year of his life John of God was not only tested by fire but also by water. Recent heavy rains had put the bitterly cold Genil River 'in flood'. As it swept through the city it carried logs and branches that could be used as firewood. In response John of God took some men and boys to the river bank to reap this transitory harvest. One of the youngsters fell into the river and was swept away and drowned even though John of God plunged in to rescue him. This sad experience and his drenching aggravated John’s illness and his health began to deteriorate rapidly.

John of God was no stranger to criticism but at this time it came from some well-meaning busy-bodies who went to the Archbishop and told him that at John of God's hospital there were some men who were quite capable of working and should not be allowed to stay there and that, similarly, there were some worthless women around the hospital who, forgetful of all that John had done for them, disparaged him whenever they did not get their way.

The Archbishop took note of the complaints and sent for John of God. John of God immediately left his bed and went to see the Archbishop.

John of God listened carefully to the criticisms that the Archbishop relayed to him and replied: " My Father and good Prelate, it is I alone who am wicked, incorrigible, useless, and deserve to be thrown out of the house of God; and all the poor people who are in the hospital are good and I do not know anything bad about a single one of them. God suffers the bad and the good and every day He lets his sun shine on them all. There is really no reason to throw the abandoned and the afflicted out of their own house."

The Archbishop was moved deeply by John of God’s words and he told him: "Blessed of God, Brother John, go in peace. I give you permission to do in the hospital as you would in your own home." John of God went back to his hospital, and his poor, healed in spirit if not in body.

19 of 20 Final Sickness, Death and Internment

When John of God became bedridden a supporter, Doña Ana Osorio, insisted on taking him to her home, 'Casa de Los Pisa’, where he could be nursed properly. The Archbishop went to see him there and John told him: "My good Father and Pastor, three things give me concern. Firstly, I have served Our Lord so little, while I have received so much from Him. Secondly, there are the poor people to whom I have been especially attentive - those who have given up wicked and sinful lives, and those who are shamed by their poverty. My third concern is the debts that I owe, that I have entered into for the sake of Jesus Christ."

The Archbishop pacified John of God by saying: "My Brother, with regard to what you say about not having served Our Lord, trust in the mercy of Him who will make up for all your failures with the merits of His Passion. As for the poor, I accept them because I am under an obligation to take them into my charge. As for the debts you owe, I will quickly ensure that they are all paid off. I promise you that I will handle everything just as you would have yourself. So be at peace now and do not give another thought to anything except your salvation and recommending yourself to Our Lord."

John of God then handed over his work to Antón Martín and entrusted to him the care of the poor - especially the orphans and those who felt shamed by their poverty.

Soon after midnight on Saturday March 8, 1550, John of God felt his death to be imminent. Those around him saw him struggle out of bed and kneel on the floor holding, and gazing, on his crucifix. Whispering the words: "Jesus, Jesus, into your hands I commend my soul" John of God went from this life to his heavenly reward.

John of God’s body did not fall forward or sideways in death - it remained in a kneeling position, so that he seemed to be meditating or praying. Those present silently and respectfully left him like that for about fifteen minutes before laying him out in the normal way.

John of God’s body was taken with great ceremony – some said that he had the funeral of a prince – to be interred in the church of Our Lady of the Victory.

20 of 20 John of God's Legacy

The legacy of the Father of the Poor was a movement of compassion that has continued and grown through the ensuing centuries. The Christian community affirmed the authenticity of John’s heroic goodness when it declared him a saint by means of the processes of beatification (1630) and canonisation (1690). In 1886 John of God was declared to be heavenly patron of hospitals and the sick.

The followers of John of God today sum up his spirit in the word Hospitality. Hospitality, in this unique sense, was nurtured and safeguarded throughout the centuries by the religious order that evolved from the group of followers that continued John’s work in Granada and elsewhere after his death.

Known as the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, the Brothers of this religious family date its existence from 1572.

From its very beginning Hospitality has been promoted and expressed by lay men and women. St. John of God, in his letters, repeatedly spoke of his co-workers who were not brothers and the help he received from them.
The St. John of God story is one in which employees, benefactors and volunteers have supported Hospitality at every moment of its history.

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Logo of the Oceania Province

As befits a fruit with many seeds, the pomegranate is the traditional representation of fertility, and seems to have its origins everywhere. We see it in the Middle East and India. The pomegranate was cultivated in Egypt before the time of Moses. It was found in the Indus valley so early that there is a word in Sanskrit for pomegranate. Indian royalty began their banquets with pomegranate, grape, and jujube. Arab caravans, many emanating from the lush oasis that was ancient Baghdad, probably spread its use.

The pomegranate is significant in Jewish custom. Tradition holds that a pomegranate has 613 seeds to represent the 613 commandments in the Torah. The design of the pomegranate was woven into the high priest's robes, and brass representations were part of the Temple's pillars. It is mentioned six times in the Song of Solomon. We see the pomegranate again in ancient Greece and Rome. In the verses of the Odyssey, Homer mentions it as part of the gardens of Alcinous (probably in Sicily). The Romans imported their pomegranates from African Libya, and Pliny the Elder gave instructions for its storage. Lest the pomegranate be neglected in the East, it appears in China during the Han and Sung dynasties. The derivation of the word pomegranate comes from the Middle French pomegranate (seeded apple), but Europeans were slow to adopt the pomegranate. The pomegranate was probably introduced from Sicily; however Europeans, then under Norman influence, distrusted fruits and vegetables, preferring a meat-based diet. It is mentioned in the 14th century Ménagier de Paris which offered some recipes, and as we see in the quote from Romeo and Juliet it was known in England in Elizabethan times. The enthusiasm for pomegranate as a food was limited, but it was widely used as a decoration.
The Spanish Conquistadores brought the pomegranate to America. Jesuit missionaries carried it north to their missions in California. They were found growing wild in Georgia in 1772.

Pomegranate and the Cross

This logo is taken from the crest of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God. The combined symbols of the pomegranate and the cross represent "charity and sacrifice." The bursting fruit expresses the need for love to expand while the cross reminds us that there can be no charity without sacrifice.

How St. John of God received the Pomegranate and Cross

Story has it that in one of John of God's journeys Our Lord marvellously revealed to him what designs He had upon him. One day as our pious peddler, as we may justly name him at the time, was trudging along in the open country, bending under his load, he observed, travelling in the same direction as himself, a young lad of a noble and beautiful appearance, although poorly clad and walking barefooted. John, touched at the sight, promptly took off his own shoes and offered them to the little wayfarer. The child tried them on with the greatest simplicity, but, as they naturally proved too large, he handed them back with a gracious smile to his would-be benefactor. Our Saint, ashamed for being more delicate than a child, did not dare to put his shoes on again. However, the charitable ingenuity of John was not to be outdone. He invited his young acquaintance to mount on top of his pack, saying: "Dear child, my brother, you will tear your feet; as my shoes do not fit you, mount upon my shoulders" - an invitation which was at once gratefully accepted. Carrying this unknowingly Him who supports the world, John was making the apprenticeship of the fatigues of serving others. At the same time, as he afterwards declared, he felt inspired to take the resolution of himself going bare footed for the remainder of his life.

Behold then our Saint plodding along under the sun and weighed down by his double burden, whilst the child wipes with his hands the sweat running from John's face. Coming to a stream and being parched with thirst, he asked the child to get down. "My dear little brother," he said, "allow me to set you down near that tree whilst I will go and drink; I shall be back in a few minutes." The child obeyed; but scarcely had John preceded a few steps in the direction of the river than the Infant Jesus - for it was He - addressed him by name and revealed Himself to Him clothed in radiant light. In His hands He held aloft a half-open pomegranate, the emblem of charity, surmounted by a cross, saying at the same time: "John of God, Granada will be thy cross." He then disappeared from view, leaving the servant of God surprised and confused at being the object of such special favour.

The apparition was of double significance. The pomegranate is a fruit red inside and surmounted by a crown. Worldly writers make it the symbol of royalty, but in Holy Scripture it is the symbol of Charity.

The cross coming out of the pomegranate represents the spirit of sacrifice which springs from charity. The Cross and Charity go hand in hand; to love is to immolate oneself.

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