Each year on February 11, the Catholic Church marks the World Day of the Sick. This is a time to offer prayers for those who suffer from illness and for their caregivers.
World Day of the Sick “is an opportunity to devote special attention to the sick and to those who provide them with assistance and care both in healthcare institutions and within families and communities.
We think in particular of those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, the effects of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
To all, and especially to the poor and the marginalized, I express my spiritual closeness and assure them of the Church’s loving concern.” – Pope Francis
The theme of this year’s 29th World Day of Prayer for the Sick, “You have but one teacher and you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8), calls for “a trust-based relationship to guide care for the sick.” Jesus asks us to “stop and listen, to establish a direct and personal relationship with others, to feel empathy and compassion, and to let their suffering become our own as we seek to serve them.”
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“What is needed is a personalized approach to the sick, not just of curing but also of caring, in view of an integral human healing. In experiencing illness, individuals not only feel threatened in their physical integrity, but also in the relational, intellectual, affective and spiritual dimensions of their lives. For this reason, in addition to therapy and support, they expect care and attention. In a word, love.” – Pope Francis
Instituted by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1992, the World Day of the Sick is celebrated annually on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes in honour of the Marian apparitions that were said to have been seen in and around Lourdes, France by St. Bernadette. These apparitions began on Feb. 11, 1858 and since then, many pilgrims and visitors have experienced healing at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes. In 1991, Pope John Paul II was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and it is considered that his own illness was the catalyst for creating World Day of the Sick.