Spiritual Nursing for Christian Era

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IN THE PRE- CHRISTIAN The powerful Romans ill treated the slaves. All religions were fatalistic in their outlook in illness.

JESUS CHRIST DID NOT ACCEPT ILLNESS AS A PUNISHMENT/ NECESSARY ILL He healed all kinds of diseases. He brought about altruism into religious teachings Do well and expect no reward. do it for God and to be like him This is the highest motive given to mankind. This greatly influenced nursing and raised it to professional standings.


Churches established Groups organized as orders to care for the sick, the poor, orphans, widows, the aged, slaves, and prisoners. By Christs precepts- men and women made deacons of equal ranks: greater opportunities for unmarried women: strict discipline. Such thoughts carried on for many years characterizing nursing. Thus charity- LOVE IN ACTION- took root and flourished and expanded into a field of nursing of today.

THE APOSTOLIC ORDER OF WOMEN Church taught equality of all men and women Women assisted the clergy in the work of the church Later 3 orders were developed:

1. The deaconess 2. The widow and the virgins 3. The 5th and 6th century

The deaconesses- practiced work of mercy Phoebe was the first deaconess and the first visiting nurse. The widows and the virgins- actually aged unmarried women. By 5th and 6th century, their influence weakened, when the church decrees removed their duties and ranks.

EARLY CHRISTIAN HOSPITALS Deacons and deaconesses worked religiously They opened their homed to the poor, sick, anyone (diakonia) with time they were persecuted So they turned to Bishop for aid as this house was too small, the Christian xenodochium grew up a home for strangers, sick, insane, leprosy, affected orphans aged, travellers St. Basil hospital in Caesaria Palestine separate area for com. Diseases, homes, nurses and doctors.


Women of high rank, with freedom gave their wealth to charity and nursing Organized groups and funded monasteries and hospitals Important Roman matrons Fabiola - Made the first public hospital and later a hospice for strangers Marcella converted her luxurious home into a monastery. Did instructions, charitable work and prayers. St. Paula built monasteries and hospitals. Taught nursing as an ART, rather than a service


If you are a nurse or planning to become a nurse, you are entering a profession with roots in Judaeo-Christian traditions of caring for the sick. The profession of modern nursing in Europe and the Americas grew out of early Jewish and Christian communities' spiritual commitment to nursing.


The first Christian communities appeared after 33 A.D. They followed Jewish religious traditions that required organized nursing for sick people. They also wished to emulate Christ's healing of the sick.

Romans had very different attitudes. Babies deemed by their fathers to be weak or disabled were abandoned. Sick or disabled Roman adults were cared for by family members, advised by a physician or a midwife. Francois Retief and his co-authors hypothesize in "Health and Healing, Disease and Death in the Greco-Roman World" that Roman hospitals existed for only two specialized groups: soldiers and slaves.

EARLY CHRISTIAN NURSINGChristians founded many hospitals. In 370 A.D., St. Basil, bishop of Caesarea, created a large hospital complex staffed partially by nurses, a prototype of today's medical centers. A wealthy Roman widow, St. Fabiola, became one of the first known nurses, starting a public hospital in Rome in 390 A.D. A friend of hers, St. Jerome, wrote after her death that St. Fabiola viewed her hospital as a place "where she might nurse the unfortunate victims of sickness and want."

MIDDLE AGESWhen the Roman empire collapsed in 476 A.D., nursing shifted from city hospitals to monasteries and convents. One example is found in "A History of Nursing," by Mary Adelaide Nutting and Lavinia L. Dock. The co-authors describe how St. Hildegarde of Bingen wrote medical books after 1151 A.D., and functioned as a spiritual counselor, physician and nurse to many sick people.

DARK ERABetween 1500 and 1860, nursing entered a dark era. Monks and nuns continued to nurse the sick in Catholic countries. But in Protestant countries, civil authorities took over medical care. Nurses were no longer nuns, but were illiterate, untrained women, who were often alcoholics and petty criminals, according to Kathleen Masters' "Role Development in Professional Nursing Practice." Nursing became professionalized after 1860 due to the efforts of Florence Nightingale. A bored Victorian English socialite, Nightingale became an Anglican mystic, who believed that God had called her to reform the nursing profession. She wrote one of the first student nurse textbooks, and created nurse training programs.

CHRISTIAN NURSING TODAYThe first modern nurse training programs reflected their Christian roots. Nurses in the late 19th and early 20th centuries wore nunlike white caps and uniforms, and complied with rigid personal conduct codes. This strict lifestyle was a reaction to the bad reputation that nurses had prior to 1860. Medical missionaries--doctors and nurses living in foreign countries who are also Christian clergy or laity seeking converts-became a large part of missionary work in the 19th century, and play an important role in Christian overseas evangelism today. Many U.S. hospitals and medical institutions in other countries remain affiliated with various Christian denominations.