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St. John of God - March 8

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Comments of Dr. Plinio:

His features are common, regular and do not reflect any special thing.

st john of God

St. John of God (1495-1550), founder of the Brother Hospitallers

He has a short beard, probably trimmed, covering part of his face. The moustache, very thin, was probably customary in the epoch in which he lived.

The eyes are even and well set with some depth but nothing extraordinary, the eyebrows, forehead and flesh are common; likewise a common contenance.

However, when we observe his gaze, there is absolutely nothing banal. The commonplace is completely transcended by these eyes. Dark, deep, as if he were partly thinking and partly watching. A gaze half theological and half mystical. Thinking, thinking, thinking on some very elevated thing that entirely absorbs his intelligence.

He has a truly extraordinary force of soul.

Who was this man? He was St. John of God (1495-1550, born in Montemor-o-Novo in Portugal; died in Granada, Spain in 1550 at age 55). He was the founder of Order of the Brother Hospitallers of Saint John of God, a religious institute dedicated to the care of the poor, sick and those suffering from mental disorders; for this reason he was a man quite known in his time.

What should we do when we see a face like this? We should compare it with the physiognomies that we see in the streets every day. To have a common contenance is a right that every person has. No one should be considered incapable because he has a common contenance. How many common faces we see in the streets! We should not despise anyone for this reason.


One of the many hospitals founded by St. John of God

But walking through today's public places, where can we find a person with this gaze?

We can go to the temples of the modern capitalist world, which are the banks, to the newspapers, to the airports, to any place you choose... Is this what we find there? Obviously not.

However, what security the passengers of an airplane would have if they were to find a pilot commanding the flight with a gaze similar to what we see here in the painting of St. John of God! The work realized by the grace of God is such that it can choose a common person gifted with a great soul and, through its correspondence with grace, a magnificent work is accomplished.

Analysis made on January 17, 1986 during a talk
to members & supporters of Tradition, Family and Property.
Catolicismo, February 2000.

Tradition in Action

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.