The Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God,

of the Fatebenefratelli

A Hospitaller Order originating in Spain, expanding surprisingly quickly through Europe just after the death of its founder on March 8, 1550 of Giovanni Ciudad, called John of God. In 1586, less than forty years after his death, the followers of the future Saint John of God had founded 79 hospitals in Spain. In 1595 there were 29 hospitals under the administration of this order in Italy and five years later the brothers are present in France, Austria and in the East: Prague, Krakow, Danzig, Bratislava, Nuremberg and Zara in Dalmatia.

Following the conquistadores, the Order had also crossed the Atlantic and set up hospitals in Havana and in Lima, Peru. At the end of the 17th century, they were also working in the Antilles on the islands of Guadalupe and Martinique.

The expansion of the order happened through two autonomous "Congregations" in Spain and Italy.

The Spanish "congregation" (1608-1867) expanded primarily on the Iberian peninsula, Latin America, Asia, (especially in the Philippines) and even, though to a lesser extent, in Africa. The Italian "congregation" (1596-1867) increased its presence in central and eastern Europe but it also went so far as the Antilles and Canada. The two congregations suffered several setbacks beginning with repression in both Spain and Italy by the French government (1800-1814) during the Napoleonic Empire until the laws repressing religious organisations following the unification of Italy. In 1884, the Order was together again after 271 years of existence. Repairing the damage, first from the French repression and then post-unified Italy were the object of the works of restoration which followed the unification of the two religious congregations. Just as notable as the Order's commitment during the first and second world war was the destruction of Benevento, Brescia, Frascati, Gorizia and Rome to limit ourselves only to Italy. However serious damage was also registered to the order's property in France, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Poland, Bohemia, Yugoslavia and Slovakia. Even so, while in Europe the order (with the exception of England) was forced to reorganise its presence because of the wartime events, the first half of the 20th century witnessed its growth in America (The United States and Canada), Australia, Africa (Mozambique, Somalia, Ghana, Togo, Zambia, Liberia, Angola and Cameroon), Vietnam, Japan, India and Korea.

In Italy, the Order of the Fatebenefratelli presently has two religious "provinces", the Lombardo-Veneta and the Roman, which head over 25 hospitals located in Rome, Perugia, Naples, Benevento, Palermo, Alghero, Brescia, Cernusco on the Naviglio, Erba, Gorizia, Milan, Monguzzo, Romano d'Ezzelino (VI), San Colombano al Lambro, San Maurizio Canavese (TO), Solbiate Comasco, Trivolzio (PV), Varazze, Venezia and Villa d'Allegno (BS).

Missions are currently open in Israel, Togo, Benin and the Philippines.

(Last updated: Tuesday 26 September 1995)
Copyright © 1995 by Associazione San Giovanni di Dio