|An old portrait of the Saint|
Curiously, John's iconography - paintings and statues - sometimes depicts him wearing a crown of thorns. I wondered about it and after some diligent research, I was surprised to learn that the Saint may have been a Stigmatist, who wore an invisible crown of thorns. It was related that on one occasion, John was granted a vision in which he saw our Lord and the Blessed Virgin. Our Lady approached him and placed the crown upon his head, while saying,"John, it is by thorns and sufferings that you must win the crown my Son has waiting for you in Heaven." The Saint felt the pain penetrating deep into his head but replied most admirably, "From your hand, my Lady, thorns and sufferings are welcome; they are my flowers and my roses."
Toward the end of his life, John became seriously ill with pneumonia after he selflessly jumped into a river to save a drowning child. While praying on his knees in his humble cell, he quietly died unattended, on March 8th, 1550 (his 55th birthday). Reports state that his brethren were alerted to his passing by the miraculous tolling of the city's bells and a powerful heavenly fragrance that emanated from John's corpse. His body was discovered in its upright position and maintained its reverent posture up to the day of his funeral. Although in his lifetime John never intended to found a religious congregation, his principles of welcoming, charitable service inspired the establishment of the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God, which claims the Saint as its founder.
The Church canonized St. John of God in October 1660 and his body is still said to be mysteriously preserved in its shrine in Granada, Spain. He is considered the Patron Saint of booksellers, caregivers & hospital workers, and the mentally ill.