Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God

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The Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God are a Roman Catholic order founded in 1572. They are also known commonly as the Fatebenefratelli, meaning "Do-Good Brothers" in Italian.


Saint John of God[edit]

St. John of God, the founder of this religious institution, was born 8 March 1495 at Montemor-o-Novo in Portugal. In 1535, he founded his first hospital at Granada in Spain, where he served the sick and afflicted. After ten years spent in the exercise of charity, he died 8 March 1550. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VIII in 1690 and was declared patron saint of the dying and of all hospitals by Pope Leo XIII in 1898.[1]

Order of the Brothers Hospitallers[edit]

John of God's first companion Anton Martin was chosen to succeed him as superior of the order. Thanks to the generosity of King Philip II of Spain, a hospital was founded at Madrid, another at Córdoba, Spain and several others in various Spanish towns. St. Pius V approved the Order of the Brothers Hospitallers in 1572 under the rule of St. Augustine. The order spread rapidly into the other countries of Europe, and even into the distant colonies. In 1584, Pope Gregory XIII called some of the Brothers to Rome and gave them the Hospital of St. John Calybita, which then became the mother-house of the whole order. Brother Sebastiano Arias founded the hospital of Our Lady at Naples and the famous hospital of Milan. Another Brother Hospitaller at this time was John Grande, who was beatified by Pius IX in 1852.[1]

The first hospital of the order in France was founded in Paris, in 1601, by Queen Marie de Medici. In the stormy days of the French Revolution the Brothers were expelled from the forty hospitals where they were caring for 4,125 patients. But since then some large new hospitals have been established. The order is governed by a prior general who resides in Rome.[1]

In addition to these, a hospice of the order has been established at Nazareth. In 1882, a home for demented[clarification needed] men was founded at Stillorgan near Dublin, Ireland. The house at Scorton, North Yorkshire, was founded in 1880 for the reception of male patients suffering from chronic infirmities, paralysis, or old age, supported by charitable contributions and payments for inmates. The Irish postal authority recognised and honoured the contribution to society by the order by issuing a special commemorative postage stamp in 1979 for the order's centenary in Ireland.

The Brothers undergo a special course of training in order to fit them for carrying out their various works of charity to which they devote their life. In some provinces some of them are even graduates in medicine, surgery and chemistry. The members are not in holy orders, but priests wishing to devote their sacred ministry to the Brothers and patients are received. To the three solemn vows of religion they add a fourth, of serving the sick for life in their hospitals.

They assist daily at Mass, meditation, the recital in choir of the office of Our Lady and spiritual reading. The order accepts applications from men between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five. The religious habit is usually given to postulants after three months. The time of novitiate is two years, after which the novice pronounces the vows which, although simple, are perpetual. Three years later, he can be admitted to solemn profession.


The Order has bases in over 40 countries, including a base in Celbridge, County Kildare, Ireland, helping people with disabilities in the area. The Order also has many health projects in African countries, such as Malawi, Ghana, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

Sex abuse in New Zealand[edit]

The St. John of God order ran the Maryland's School, which taught pupils with learning difficulties, in Christchurch, New Zealand. Occurrences at the school during the 1970s lead to a high-profile scandal with sexual charges being laid against three members of the order.

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

External links[edit]