The life of Camillus de Lellis didn't start out all that saintly. Born in 16th-century Naples, Camillus followed in his father's footsteps and went into soldiering ... right up until he discovered that gambling was way more lucrative. He stuck with that until he went broke and was forced to drive a donkey cart, which was enough to make him believe in divine retribution.
Camillus saw the error of his ways, repented, and devoted his life to caring for the sick. But because karma is not a Christian concept, the man endured a litany of ailments, including "a sore in his leg for forty-six years; a rupture for thirty-eight years which he got by serving the sick; two callous sores in the sole of one of his feet, which gave him great pain; violent nephritic colics, and for a long time before he died, a loss of appetite."
via Wiki Commons
Only Italy could consider a loss of appetite the worst of that lineup.
At the age of 65, after a long life of caregiving, conflict, and pain, Camillus went forever to rest. Or at least, he did until someone decided to rip his Christ-loving heart out of his dead-ass chest. Saint Camillus's licorice heart has toured the world, from Thailand to the Philippines and all the way to Ireland. Here it is in its full, HD reliquary glory, in case you were never planning on eating ever again:
The act of parading around a dead man's heart seems somewhat at odds with Camillus' life's work of helping the sick and unfortunate, because it is an act that can be described by both of those words. If we were the wagering type (as Camillus certainly was), we'd be willing to bet that he'd prefer to let his mortal remains be composted in a tasteful grave somewhere, rather than jet-setting around the globe like a hotel heiress.
Cathal McGuigan writes about the news, boxing and nonsense from Derry, Ireland. You can follow him here. Laura H enjoys reading about dead people. Follow her on Twitter.
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