St. John was born on March 8, 1495 to poor but respectful parents in Montemayor-el-Novo in Portugal. When John was only eight years old, he went to Spain under unknown circumstances.
Thereafter he spent long years in search of his vocation in life. He was a shepherd, a soldier, a servant and a book seller. His life was filled with dissipation and frivolity. While traveling one day, he came upon an ill-clad, barefoot child who asked John to carry him along the road.
Stopping to get some water from a fountain, the child transformed and shining brightly said, "John of God, Granada shall be your cross" and then he disappeared.
Now it was time to turn to Heaven for the answer. John made a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadaloupe, beseeching the Mother of God to show him the direction to take with his life. Upon his return to Granada, John busied himself in gathering the sick and indigent of the town, washing them and attending to their needs.
He lovingly accomplished every menial task in order to atone for the sins of his past. For this, he patiently endured ridicule and persecution, even from those whom he helped. Most of the time, he carried these tasks without any assistance. After many years, he founded the Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God composed of men, following his heroic example, who wished to atone for their past sins.
Towards the end of his life, St. John saw a vision of Our Lady carrying a crown of thorns in her hands. Pressing it hard upon his head she said," John, it is by thorns and sufferings that you must win the crown my Son has waiting for you in heaven." His reply was," From your hand, Lady, thorns and sufferings are welcome; they are my flowers and my roses."
St. John died on his fifty-fifth birthday in a selfless act of charity repeating the words:" ...I have received so many graces from God, and have not recognized them, and have repaid them with so little of my own."
Do we have a notion of sin? If so, have we atoned sufficiently for the sins we have committed? Let us ask Our Lady to have the grace to consider the sufferings in our life to be her "flowers".