St Camillus healing oil
The St Camillus healing oil is dedicated to the Italian saint who is patron for hospitals and the sick.
St. Camillus de Lellis was born at Bucchianico, Italy. He fought for the Venetians against the Turks. He was addicted to gambling, and by 1574 was penniless in Naples. Camillus became a Capuchin novice. However, he was unable to be professed because of a diseased leg he contracted while fighting the Turks. He devoted himself to caring for the sick, and became director of St. Giacomo Hospital in Rome. He received permission from his confesser (St. Philip Neri) to be ordained.
Camillus decided, with two companions, to found his own congregation, the Ministers of the Sick (the Camellians). They dedicated themselves to the care of the sick. The Camellians ministered to the sick of Holy Ghost Hospital in Rome. They enlarged their facilities in 1585, and founded a new house in Naples in 1588. Also, they attended the plague-stricken aboard ships in Rome’s harbor and in Rome.
In 1591, the Congregation was made into an order to serve the sick by Pope Gregory XIV. Also, in 1591 and 1605, Camillus sent members of his order to minister to wounded troops in Hungary and Croatia. These were the first field medical unit. However, gravely ill for many years, he resigned as superior of the Order in 1607 and died in Rome on July 14, the year after he attended a General Chapter there. He was canonized in 1746, was declared patron of the sick, with St John of God, by Pope Leo XIII, and patron of nurses and nursing groups by Pope Pius XI. His feast day is July 18th.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.