The History of the Order

1591: The followers of Camillus de Lellis are granted the status of an Order by the Pope. They have been organized by Camillus in order to counter the prevailing inadequate physical, emotional and spiritual treatment of the sick and infirm in the sparsely furnished hospitals of the period.1614: After a long illness, Camillus dies, but his Order carries on and spreads from Rome.1656: A plague devastates Naples, Italy. Of the city’s 650,000 inhabitants, 450,000 die. Among the dead are 95 Camillians who perish while ministering to their fellow citizens.1704: A Spanish Camillian priest travels to South America, initiating a dynamic nearly 100-year Camillian presence on the continent which would remain until the Latin American wars of independence.1742: Pope Benedict XIV beatifies Camillus de Lellis.1746: Pope Benedict XIV canonizes Camillus de Lellis, now Saint Camillus.1753: A plague strikes Portugal. Living in houses erected by the Order, 37 Camillians die serving those afflicted by the epidemic.1781: The travel party of 11 priests, two brothers and a seminarian begin a journey toward Goa, India. For reasons unknown, the travelers only get as far as Lisbon, Spain before returning.1783: The Order enjoys its largest and most prosperous period to date.1788: King Ferdinand removes Naples and Sicily from the ministry of the Order.1793: King Ferdinand removes Spain and South America from the ministry of the Order.1810: Napoleon Bonaparte suppresses the Order of St. Camillus, along with all other Religious Orders.1814: King Ferdinand welcomes the Camillians back to Naples, citing their good works and the appreciation of the Neapolitan people.1816: King Ferdinand welcomes the Camillians back to Sicily.1829: Maria Dominican Brun Barbantini establishes the Ministers of the Sick in Lucca, Italy.1840: During a cholera epidemic, many ministering Camillians die assisting the afflicted.1842: The Order experiences a resurgence, thanks in no small part to the efforts of a famous Diocesan priest, Father Camillo Bresciani, who joins the Camillians.1866: The Italian State, a newly-established political body, suppresses the Order of St. Camillus and all other Religious Orders.1867: A number of Camillians travel to Africa to avoid suppression. They remain in Africa for ten years before unrest in Italy causes them to return.1880: French officials make an attempt to suppress all Religious Orders operating in France.1897: The House of Lima rejoins the Order after 104-year separation.1922: A number of Camillians extend the ministry to Brazil.1923: The Camillians establish their first house in the United States.1935: The Camillians open their first house in Ireland.1946: Camillians establish presence in China. They would be expelled to Taiwan and Thailand six years later in 1952.1954: The Camillians open their first house in Canada.1963: The Camillians open their first house in Australia. A year later,Camillians open their first house in Colombia and then in 1965,Tanzania.1967: The Camillians open their first house in Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta) in Africa.1971: The Camillians open their first house in Benin (formerly Dahomy) in Africa.1975: The Camillians open their first house in the Philippines and a year later in Kenya.1980: The Camillians open their first house in India and the first house in Madagascar.1981 to the present: The Camillians establish houses in Hungary, Slovakia, Armenia, Georgia, Haiti, Ecuador, Bolivia and Mexico.2001: A Camillian priest is stabbed to death while ministering in a Burkina Faso prison.2003: The Thai Delegation is elevated to the status of a Vice Province.2006: The Peruvian Delegation is elevated to the status of a Vice Province. The Delegation of Burkina Faso is elevated to the status of a Vice Province.2009: The Indian Delegation is elevated to the status of a Vice Province. Act of Canonical establishment of religious house in Ho Chi Minh City – Vietnam. Act of establishment of a religious house into a novitiate – St. Camillus – in Bucchianico – Italy. Late it became an interprovincial novitiate for Italian and European provinces. Starting on the process of Relaunching the Camillian charisma in Europe (Provincial and Delegates meeting - Bangalore – India Oct. 26-30, 2009). Later it became “The Camillian Project” extended to the whole Order.2010: Decree of suppression of the North America Province - May 1st 2010 - (It was held for one year  under the jurisdiction of the General and the Consulters. Provincials meeting in Rome – Oct. 26-30, 2009.2011: Provincials meeting Lima (Peru) - Oct. 11-14, 2011. On July 14, 2011 San Camillo (Phase I) Independent Living at St. Camillus Campus celebrate 25th anniversary of foundation.2012: The Logo for IV Centenary of the celebration of the death of St. Camillus was approved. The appointment of Fr. Prosper Kontiebo as a Bishop of the Diocese of the Tenkodogo  (Burkina Faso). Feb 11, 2012. Beginning of the pilgrimage of the St. Camillus’ Heart on the occasion of the celebration of the  400th anniversary of the death of St. Camillus. The Brazilian Province celebrates 90th anniversary of their foundation. -Indonesia became officially the Delegation of the Philippine Province. USA Delegation officially became a Delegation of the Brazilian Province on April 24, 2011. Canonically erected on June 26, 1862 the Lombardo-Venetian Province is celebrating its  150th anniversary. The Camillian Project (Process began in India - 2009. First draft presented in Lima (Peru) 2011 and final drafting was presented in Mottinello (Italy) in May 2012. Final stage will be at the next General Chapter in May 2013).

The Order of St. Camillus has endured numerous setbacks and enjoyed great advancement over the course of its existence. Since its promotion to the status of a Religious Order in 1591, we have lost many of the men in our ministry to illness and plagues. There have also been times of tumultuous political disturbance, and even suppression of the Order. However, the Order of St. Camillus has survived … and grown stronger after meeting each adversity.

As you can see, the history of the Order of St. Camillus has met many hardships, but has persevered and stands as a strong and unified ministry to this day. The Order would not be what it is today, however, without the leadership of our founder, St. Camillus, and the sacrifice of the many martyrs who gave their lives for his cause.

Order of St. Camillus Historical Highlights (Click here for TimelinePDF.)