The Camillians in Pavia since 1693 at the service of the sick

Edited by Felice de Miranda M.I., I Camilliani a Pavia dal 1693 al servizio dei malati, Edizioni CDG, 2019


Preface by Fr. Mario Bizzotto, M.I.

Looking back at the past can only be edifying. It is a way of filling in the present by filling in emptiness. What would the present be without the past? Would it not lose its meaning? An answer to this question is provided by the initiative of Father De Miranda who had the happy idea of making a summary of the activity of the Camillian fathers in St. Matthew’s Hospital of Pavia. He describes to us a past that starts in faraway 1692 and continues until 1810 when, following the Napoleonic laws, the Camillian religious were forced to abandon their ministry at the service of the sick in the city of Pavia.

The ideal of St. Camillus found disciples who followed one another like rings in a chain. A long tradition thereby came to be established which it would be ungrateful to allow to be forgotten. Indeed, that would be a betrayal of identity. The Jewish thinker Adorno defined forgetting as diabolical and identified it with Satan. There is also a duty to remember and to betray this duty means that we make ourselves responsible for a sin. In Holy Scripture we repeatedly encounter a warning that has the value of a command: remember your mother and father, remember to sanctify holy days…

The editor of this work, Fr. De Miranda, observes that his work is intended for the citizens of Pavia. In fact, however, it is principally of interest to the Camillians. In essential terms, we have here a history that belongs to our family; to the ‘little plant’ that St. Camillus said would spread. It put down roots in Pavia as well. There were no special initiatives, which for that matter were not even necessary given that care for the sick takes place through small pathways, gestures that do not stand out, words of encouragement and cordial handshakes. This care is averse to amazing outward expressions. It unfolds in inter-personal relationships and thus by its very nature it is humble, ferial, unadorned; it expresses itself in contacts with an individual and in encounter with an individual, where it is possible to listen to things spoken confidentially, personal histories, and autobiographical stories that for the most part are marked by sad events.