The Church and Medicine

  1. Lemma
  2. Церковь и медицина
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Scientific theories and disciplines > Medicine - Education, Science and Orthodoxy - History and philosophy of science
  6. 21-08-2018
  7. Лошкарев, И. А. [Author]. Церковь и медицина
  8. Интеграция образования
  9. allopathic medicine - Monastery - hospitals - Byzantine Empire - Saint Basil the Great - Peter the Great - History of Science - Monastery - medicine
  10. Click Here
    1. <p>Лошкарев, И. А. (2001). Церковь и медицина. <em>Интеграция образования</em>, (1), 87-89.</p>
    1. The author provides a history of medicine and hospitals in Russia and argues that doctors and priests have a long history of collaboration. He begins with the influence of the Byzantine Empire, where monasteries became centres of medical education and opened the first shelters for wounded pilgrims. St. Basil the Great (329-379 AD) established the first hospitals in monasteries, a tradition that was later adopted in Russia. St. Basil also opened the first professional hospital in 370 AD in Caesarea. 

      The author cites the Nikon Chronicle, East Slavonic chronicles compiled in mid-16th century Russia, which mentions the opening of the first hospitals and attached medical schools in 11th century Russia. It highlights several monks – Antony, Alimpy and Agapit, as outstanding doctors of their time, working in the then most famous hospital of medieval Russia, the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Agapit is renown for having cured Grand Prince Vladimir II Monomakh (1053-1125).

      Monks provided medical services free of charge. Their medical ethics included the cultivation of love of others, implying self-sacrifice; carrying out hard work for the patients’ sake; and not seeking personal enrichment or glory. The Chronicle also dwells on secular doctors in medieval Russia, who were often foreigners. The Tatar invasion of the 13th century dramatically damaged the network of monasteries and their activity. The Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery in the Russian north became one of the main medical centres. Its founder, Cyril of Belo-Ozero (1337-1427) translated ancient Greek medical texts into Russian. It is also believed that medieval hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church had medical education.

      The first secular medical school was founded in 1654 in Moscow. Boyar Fedor Rtishchev (1625-1673) opened the first Russian secular hospitals on the premises of his estate in Moscow. In the 17th century, several Russian monasteries built hospitals. Monasteries in Russia were traditionally conceived as fortresses. It was thus natural to have medical facilities there. Tsar Peter the Great (1672-1725) secularized medical services and expropriated large properties of monasteries, significantly reducing their funding. In the 18th century Russian secular doctors’ services were monetized. It is only after the reforms of local governments, Zemstvo, in the 19th century, that the general public got access to free health care again.

      The author ends his article during the Soviet period, explaining that the Soviet anticlerical campaign did not manage to put an end to religion in the country. Many Soviet doctors of the 20th century were deeply religious people, for example surgeon Voyno-Yasenetsky (1877-1961) and ophthalmologist Vladimir Filatov (1875-1956).