By Gary Macy
Christians can be proud to
know that they virtually invented hospitals. Christians early on began to take
care of the poor and sick in their neighborhoods. By the year 251, the church
in Rome supported more than 1,500 widows and needy persons, all of whom were
fed by the grace and kindness of the Lord. Two great figures in
fourth century Christianity, St. Fabiola of Rome and St. Basil of Caesarea went
further and built large complexes with their personal fortunes. Basils
new city, the storehouse of piety, contained hospices, training
facilities for those out of work and, of course, areas to tend the sick. St.
Jerome wrote of Fabiola, Was there a naked or bedridden person who was
not clothed with garments supplied by her? Were there ever any in want to whom
she failed to give a quick and unhesitating supply? Even Rome was not wide
enough for her pity. And, oh yes, all for free.
Gary Macy is a theology professor at the University of
San Diego. He may be reached at email@example.com