John was born in Portugal. He was a shepherd until he was 21 and then for the next 18 years he was a soldier. Even though he led a wild life, he loved the poor and sick.
John was over forty years old when he left the army. He went back to Spain and rented a house. In gathered all the sick, the poor and the homeless of the town of Granada. Often carrying them to his house on his own back, he washed and bandaged their sores, and begged food for them. He brought many sinners back to God. People began to help him in his work. The Order, which he started, was growing. It became known as the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God. His motto was: "Labor without stopping; do all the good works you can while you still have the time."
After saving a man from drowning, John became very ill. On March 8, 1550, the nurses found him kneeling before a crucifix, his face resting on the feet of Jesus. He was dead.
O God, You filled St. John with the spirit of compassion. Grant that by practicing works of charity we may deserve to be numbered among the elect in Your Kingdom.
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