Basil (Photo credit: el_finco) Not actually Basil the Great, but the herb, which has been used since ancient times as an anti-inflammatory.
Here’s the next bit of the “hospitals chapter” in Getting Medieval with C S Lewis. It follows from this bit on Lewis, this introductory bit, and this description of the very first proto-hospitals in the earliest Christian church
Basil’s House of Healing
The hospital itself, it is generally agreed, begins to emerge in the fourth century from the compassion of a well-known monk—Basil, now called “the Great.” In setting the scene for this story, historian Timothy S. Miller reminds us that Lewis’s “two-edged” description of the faith (body affirming + spirit affirming) characterized monks as well as laypeople – in a way many moderns find surprising. Mentioning some of the monks’ more severe ascetic practices (for example, the unforgettable Simeon Stylites’ long stretches sitting atop a pole in the desert), Miller admits, “Their lifestyles of severe self-denial may seem to pull against the truth that God made us human beings and called us ‘very good’—bodies and all.”
“But,” continues, Miller, “if monastics really thought of the body as evil, then how is it that some of the greatest strides in the history of healthcare arose within monasticism? Monks cared for the ill in Benedictine monasteries, Franciscan leprosaria, the institutions of the monastic ‘hospitallers,’ the many hospitals of the Augustinians, and so on throughout the history of monasticism.” Basil started it all, and his story “decisively dispels” our “myths of body-hating monks.” Continue reading →
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Basil the Great, Benedict of Nursia, Crusades, healing, healthcare, Hospitallers, hospitals, Jerusalem, mercy, Simeon Stylites, the poor
Piety and high finance. Christian ecumenism and Middle Eastern tension. The Vatican and a Kentucky businessman meeting to fund a Holy-land venture. A ruined 1st-century Jerusalem synagogue excavated while laying the foundation of a 21st-century hundred-million dollar hotel complex. (Then its old coins and other relics captured, one imagines, under plexiglass cases in the behemoth’s gleaming lobby).
All of this and more surfaces in yesterday’s news story about the “Magdala Center,” coming soon to the Sea of Galilee.
I’m sorry, I just find the powerful gospel associations of the Holy Land creepily incongruous with accommodations that will undoubtedly prove both luxurious and unattainable to 99.99% of the world population–not to mention the crew of fishermen who once hung around the Messiah. Continue reading →
Medieval miniature painting of the Siege of Antioch - First Crusade
After lecturing the other day to Bethel undergrads on the feudal system (the defining reality of “those who worked”), and before outlining the idea of sacramentality and the sacraments in the Middle Ages (a central notion and rituals for “those who prayed”), I laid out what many of “those who fought” were doing between the 11th and 15th centuries.
They were going on Crusades.
That is, they were seeking to reclaim the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land in general for Christendom.
[Again, sources for this part of the lecture include several lectures from the Teaching Company, e.g., http://teachingcompany.12.forumer.com/viewtopic.php?t=2605]
Jerusalem was the center of the world for medieval Christians—and for hundreds of years, Christians had been making pilgrimages there. Yet since the 7th century, Jerusalem and the surrounding area had been controlled by the Muslims, whose massive growth from the 7th through the 11th century came at least partially at the expense of formerly Christian territories. Continue reading →
Guenter Risse has provided, in his Mending Bodies, Saving Souls, a fascinating account of the Hospital of St. John in Jerusalem during the crusader years.
The Hospital reflected and elaborated on the values found in the earlier monastic history of Christian hospitals. Here are some glimpses, prefaced by a brief timeline of Jerusalem’s history: Continue reading →
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Resources for Radical Living
Tagged Hospital of St. John, Hospitallers, hospitals, Jerusalem, medicine, Medieval, Middle Ages, monasticism, the Crusades, the First Crusade
Much older than our modern interest in “the historical Jesus” has been a near-universal Christian fascination with the land where Jesus walked. Unfortunately of late that fascination has often turned to squabbling among those who actually live in that land. What follows is a newsletter I wrote shortly after arriving at Christian History in 2002:
Christian History Corner: Divvying up the Most Sacred Place
Emotions have historically run high as Christians have staked their claims to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Chris Armstrong | posted 7/01/2002 12:00AM
The Holy Land—the region where Jesus walked and lived and died—exerts a strange power over the hearts of believers. Readers who have been to Jerusalem and visited its sites may thus feel at least a twinge of sympathy for a group of elderly monks living in that city, who recently made the news in a most unseemly way.
Last Monday, chairs, iron bars, and fists flew on the roof of one of the most revered sites in Christianity, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. When the dust cleared, seven Ethiopian Orthodox monks and four Egyptian (Coptic) monks had been injured. The fight started when an Egyptian monk decided to move his chair into the shade—technically, argued the Ethiopians, encroaching on the latter’s jurisdiction. Continue reading →