February 11 is World Day of the Sick, is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church started by Pope John Paul II as a way for believers to offer prayers for those suffering from illnesses and their caregivers. The day coincides with the commemoration of Our Lady of Lourdes.

People around the world take the time to pray for the sick and for those who work very hard to alleviate the sufferings of the sick on this day. Faith organisations mark this day especially to provide the sick with medicines, food, and spiritual guidance.

Pope John Paul II initiated the day in 1992 to encourage people to pray for those who suffer from illness and for their caregivers. The Pope himself had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s a year before, in 1991, and it is considered that his own illness was impetus for his designation of the day. The Pope had written a great deal on the topic of suffering and believed that it was very much a salvific and redeeming process through Christ, as he indicated in his apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris.

The feast of Lourdes was chosen because many pilgrims and visitors to Lourdes have reportedly been healed by intercessions of the Blessed Virgin. The pontiff was also fond of the sanctuary of Harissa in Lebanon.

In 2005, the World Day of the Sick had a special significance since it was the year John Paul died from a sepsis. Many people had gathered around him as he lay dying.

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