Saint Camillo de Lellis: The Iconography
St. Camillus founded the Order of Ministers to the Sick, originally called the Brothers of a Happy Death, and ministered to invalids first in the Ospedale Santo Spirito in Rome and later also on the battlefield in Hungary and Croatia. In Rome, Camillus lived in the monastery adjacent to the Maddalena church, where he is now entombed.1

In images Camillus wears a collar such as the one seen at right, often with short points on it. In paintings he wears a cassock or stole with a red cross, the emblem assigned to his order by Pope Sixtus V (example). According to his friend and biographer Sanzio Cicatelli, the cross played a role at crucial points in the saint's life: Before his birth his mother had a vision of her son with a cross leading other men with a similar cross. And once, when Camillus was feeling discouraged, he heard a voice from his crucifix saying "This is my work, not yours."2

The second picture at right represents the latter episode. In La Maddalena, Rome, one painting shows Mary Magdalene worshipping the cross of St. Camillus, and another has him rising toward the Cross in Heaven. He is also featured, along with his confessor St. Philip Neri, in the Glory of St. Mary Magdalene fresco in the sacristy.

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-10-14.


Statue of St. Camillo on the façade of La Maddalena, Rome (See the description page)

"This is my work, not yours." (See description page)

Costanzi,Christ Appears to St. Camillo de Lellis, 1749 (See description page)


  • Lived 1550-1614


  • Sometimes listed as Camillus de Lellis



1 Butler III, 134-36.

2 Cicatelli, 48 (I, xix), 10 (I, ii), 28 (I, x).