Sunday, May 15, 2022

Of Hospitals and Treatments

Much of the medieval "medical" care happened in the home—herbal remedies and such—but hospitals did exist, run by religious groups such as the Order of the Hospital of St. John. This Order founded and managed the Jerusalem Hospital to support crusaders and pilgrims to the Holy Land. In the case of this Order, they were so committed to care that, in the words of an anonymous cleric who visited the Jerusalem Hospital:

It has happened on a number of occasions that when the space … proves insufficient for the multitude of the suffering, the dormitory of the brethren is taken over by the sick and the brethren themselves sleep on the floor.

Their charity did not know boundaries. Jerusalem had thousands of Muslims and Jews living there who were also in need of care. Therefore,

the sick are gathered together in this House out of every nation, every social condition, and both sexes, so that by the mercy of the Lord the number of lords increase in proportion to the multitude of languages. Indeed, knowing well that the Lord invites all to salvation and wishes none to perish [Ezek.18:32], men of pagan religion find mercy within this holy House if they flock thither, and even Jews.

Of course daily "treatment" would have included Christian instruction and daily prayer as well as food and medicine and ointments. Since sickness was often considered the result of sin, this made sense at the time.

The hospital and the care offered even tempted wealthy citizens to act poor so they could get treatment. 

There was only one type of person was outright refused entry to the Jerusalem (and other) Hospital.

Next? Lepers.

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