Following the Footsteps of the Great Physician: Healthcare in the Early Church

"Mark’s Gospel records an account of a woman “who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5.25-26 NRSV). When she heard about Jesus, however, she pressed through the crowds – “if I just touch his clothes, I will be healed” (Mark 5.28). She was right. The bleeding stopped the instant she touched his cloak and she was delivered from all her suffering.

This woman’s experience under many physicians was common in the ancient world. One of the enduring legacies of the early Church was its reformation of both the delivery of health care and the prevailing popular views of sickness and wellness. The following article outlines the story of this reformation in ancient health care. After a brief overview of health care in the ancient world, I consider three episodes in the development of early Christian health care: 1: the Christian response to the plagues of the third century; 2: the organization and delivery of monastic health care in the fourth century; and 3: the construction of the first hospital, which was part of Basil the Great’s Basileiados, a multifaceted institution that provided medical, social, and educational services."

Read the full article HERE.