Hospitalers Marking a 400th Anniversary in Cuba

Caring for the Sick, «the Lord’s Favorites»

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MADRID, Spain, JAN. 19, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Hospitaler Order of St. John of God is celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first time it took on a hospital in Cuba.

In the Caribbean nation it serves the sick, «the Lord’s favorites,» said religious Manuel Colliga in a report sent to the Ivicon news agency from Havana.

In 1578, just 28 years after the death of the founder of the Hospitaler Order, the Brothers of St. John of God arrived in Cuba, believing that the island was the «key to all the Americas.»

They had hoped to establish themselves as at the Hospital of Granada, Spain. But this was not possible because they lacked the legally required Royal Settlement Permit.

The Hospitalers returned 25 years later, in 1603, to take over a budding hospital built of palm trunks and leaves, and to build another center, which was named the Hospital of St. John of God. They also established themselves in Camaguey and helped establish other hospitals in Cuba, including Santiago de Cuba, Trinidad, Sancti Spiritus and St. Clare.

Many details about the early years of the Hospitaler Order in Cuba are lost because the order’s archives disappeared, a result of the 1835 Spanish Disentailment Law, observed Colliga.

What is certain is that the Religious Hospitalers returned to Cuba in 1940, providing a psychiatric center and two homes for the elderly, one of which was inaugurated recently in Camaguey.

«All enjoy great vitality and prestige because of the excellent service they offer the people,» Colliga emphasized.

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