Saint Camillo de Lellis: The Iconography

St. Camillus de Lellis, priest and confessor of the Order of Clerks Regular, Ministers of the Infirm, patron saint of hospitals and of the sick. His natal day Not his birthday but the day he died and was "born again" into Heaven is July 14. – Roman Martyrology for July 18

St. Camillo founded the order named above, originally called the Brothers of a Happy Death, and ministered to invalids first in the Ospedale Santo Spirito in Rome (image) 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 "Fear not, o pusillanimous one. I go before you, I will help you, and I will be with you."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)


  • Stole with red crosses
  • Cassock with a high, squarish collar



  • Feast day: Originally July 14, now July 18
  • 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).