CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 14, 2002 ( John Paul II praised those who care for the sick, and urged them and their charges to look to their patron, St. Camillus of Lellis, as a model.

The Pope expressed these thoughts today before reciting the midday Angelus. He greeted several thousand pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence here, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Rome.

"For many, the time of vacation begins with the month of July," the Holy Father said. "My heartfelt best wishes to all who are in holiday places, for a serene and profitable restoration of body and spirit."

"At the same time, I cannot but remember with affection all those who do not have the possibility to go on vacation," he added.

"I am thinking, especially, of those who are in prisons and hospitals, or who are alone in their homes," the Pope continued. "I would like to assure them of my spiritual closeness, while hoping that they will not lack the necessary help of friendly people."

"Moreover, I express great appreciation for those who, with a genuine human and Christian spirit, are voluntarily dedicated to the support of the needy, the sick, and of all those in difficulty," the Holy Father said.

Today is the feast day of St. Camillus of Lellis (1550-1614), patron of the sick and of those who look after them. In his youth he was a rough soldier keen on gambling.

"Providence made use of a wound in his foot, which gave him the experience of being in St. James' Hospital in Rome," John Paul II said. "Years later, that wound led him to return to the same hospital, where he began to care for the sick, especially the most seriously ill and repugnant, in whom he saw and served Jesus."

"After understanding the will of God, he consecrated himself totally to him in this important service, and founded a new order, that of Ministers of the Sick, who would be called the 'Camillians.' On his breast, embroidered on his habit, he had a large cross, to remind himself and others that Christ is the Divine Physician, the true Savior of humanity," the Holy Father emphasized.

The "Camillians" now number about 1,000.

Before bidding the pilgrims farewell, John Paul II requested their prayers, so that World Youth Day, set for July 23-28, may be "a rich experience of faith and Christian commitment for the young people who will be in Toronto."