Christianity’s Contributions: Hospitals opened (Part 1)

The contributions by the Christian Church through the centuries are many.  Because of the love of God displayed in the salvation provided by Jesus Christ, believers’ lives were changed, and in return, they changed their culture.  The development of hospitals is one such example.

Travel through a large city and notice the names of the hospitals.  In my city, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we have names like St. Mary’s, St. Luke’s, St. Joseph’s, and Froedert Lutheran Memorial Hospital just to name a few.  The heritage of the Christian Church is evident in the opening of facilities to care for the sick and hurting, just as Jesus healed many in His earthly ministry.  Sadly, this was not the heritage of the Roman world into which Christ was born.

The Romans had medical facilities, but were limited in their diagnostic ability and housing of the sick.  For example, those who were ill could go to the Aesculapia for one night for the god Aesculapius to reveal what treatment was needed, but after that no housing was given to the ill person.  (The Aesculapia also turned away the very ill and pregnant women, since treatment was basically resting and eating.)

Romans also could go to the Iatreia for a diagnosis and prescription, but it offered no housing.  A separate institution was called the Valetudinaria; however, it was only for sick gladiators and soldiers.

Sadly, Bishop Dionysius (250 AD) records that Romans “thrust aside anyone who began to be sick, and kept aloof even from their dearest friends, and cast the sufferers out upon the public roads half dead, and left them unburied, and treated them with utter contempt when they died.”

Thankfully, the Christian Church did not treat the sick in such a manner.  More on that in the next blog.

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December 01, 2015

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