Hail The Mothers of Modern Medicine
- Who were the founders of modern medicine? An Orthodox Archbishop in British Columbia points to three women from the first century. And he's got the icon to venerate them.
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo has sweeping interests and a large mind, which he's putting to use in part to highlight the role that Orthodox women played in developing a form of free health care and holistic healing. I love the way these early doctors are stilled called "unmercenary physicians."
Puhalo showed me their icon, The Mothers of Modern Medicine, when I was recently out at his monastery, east of Mission, B.C. (I'm doing a story on him, which will appear before Christmas.)
Here is an excerpt from an online posting Puhalo wrote about the mothers. Fascinating.
"The Mothers of Modern Medicine.
Holy Unmercenary Physicians: Sts. Hermione, Philonella & Zenaida.
A strong tradition in the Orthodox Christian world was that of the Holy Unmercenary physicians. This category of saint was made up of trained physicians who, being Christian, added not only the holistic dimension to their practice, but treated the poor and disadvantaged without charge for their services. They combined clinical medicine with prayer, never disdaining pharmaceuticals or traditional medical practices.
Interestingly, this tradition was founded by three women the first in the long series of "unmercenary physicians." So far as we know, the first of these great "unmercenary physicians" were women. The sisters, Zenaida and Philonella were born in the district of Tarsus early in the first century. They were cousins of Apostle Paul and sisters of the first Christian bishop of Tarsus, Jason. They were born into a highly educated Jewish family. Both sisters entered the famous school at Tarsus to study philosophy but were especially attracted to the lectures of the medical theorists.
They were converted to Christianity by their brother Jason and were very much attracted by the love and compassion of Christ. After their baptism, the two gave themselves over more fully to the study of medicine and began to apply Christian principles and ideas to medical philosophy. Orthodox Christianity taught that salvation is a healing process. The two sisters were deeply impressed with the realization that Christ tied the healing of the whole person, spiritual and physical with the presence of the Heavenly Kingdom.
George C. Thomas, Kuwait