Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Sunday 25 July |
The Feast of Saint James the Great
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Pope Francis and the semi-forgotten Franciscan friar

Agostino Gemelli AND POPE FRANCIS

VATICAN MEDIA/AFP | Public Domain

Lucien de Guise - published on 07/16/21

Agostino Gemelli was exceptional in being a Franciscan friar who was also a medical authority. The hospital where Pope Francis was treated is named after him.

The hospital that has been treating Pope Francis has had many other illustrious patients. One with a statue prominently placed near the entrance is Pope St. John Paul II – after the assassination attempt in 1981. Less publicized is the identity of the man who gave his name to Rome’s largest hospital. 

Fr. Agostino Gemelli grew up agnostic and ended up as one of the most important Franciscan friars of the 20th century. The reason the hospital bears his name is that it in 1964 it became the medical-teaching facility of the university founded exactly 100 years ago. In 1921 Fr. Agostino created what has since become among the largest Catholic educational establishments in the world. The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart is in Milan, rather than Rome, but has been central to Italian life for almost a century. The influence of its founder has been massive, especially in medicine. This seems logical for an order founded by the first saint with wounds of the stigmata. 

Agostino Gemelli was exceptional in being a Franciscan friar who was also a medical authority. As it was against Church rules to practice as a physician, he became a research specialist. 

One field that the university has not ventured into is visual art. There is, however, the consolation of St. Francis being inspired by Christ speaking to him from a crucifix. Copies of the San Damiano Cross must hang in more homes around the world than any other image of the crucifixion.

The virtual Museum of the Cross

The Museum of the Cross, the first institution dedicated to the diversity of the most powerful and far-reaching symbol in history. After 10 years of preparation, the museum was almost ready to open; then came COVID-19. In the meantime, the virtual museum has started an Instagram account to engage with Aleteia readers and the stories of their own crucifixes: @crossXmuseum

Tags:
Catholic historyHealthcarePope Francis
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
morning
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
2
nightbirde
Cerith Gardiner
8 Powerful quotes from Nightbirde that will fill you with hope
3
Daniel Esparza
5 Curious things you might not know about Catholicism
4
ŁACINA
Philip Kosloski
Why is Latin the official language of the Church, instead of Aram...
5
MACHAERUS
Daniel Esparza
3 Legendary pilgrimages off the beaten path
6
WEB2-Benjamin_West_-_Joshua_passing_the_River_Jordan_with_the_Ark_of_the_Covenant_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
Daniel Esparza
Who are the cherubim in the Bible?
7
Tefillin
Zelda Caldwell
Did Jesus wear “tefillin” as some observant Jews do t...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.