Abaziasanvittorefrasassi” di Massimo Roselli – http://massimo.roselli.info. Con licenza CC BY-SA 2.5 tramite Wikimedia Commons.

Medicine in the Middle Ages and the Benedictine Abbey of St. Victor.

Often you get the impression that in the past, such as in the Middle Ages, there was a real science of medicine, as opposed to today, but perhaps not quite so. Today the scientific medical community and the State through the Ministry of Health, and other public bodies, controls the development of medicine and those who exercise this profession, while in the Middle Ages the situation was much more chaotic. At that time there was more than one medical: there were those who exercised such activities following the Greek and Latin texts, who cured with herbs or stones, who, as artisans, were the cavadenti or midwives, like other crafts Typically, those who were magicians, witches, sorcerers and healers, who finally at home, practicing the activity to treat the health of their family. For the first group I mentioned should be made clear that after the fall of the Roman Empire, those who could read medical texts in Latin and greek, were almost all only religious. In fact, even more than 90% of the nobles were illiterate, so the only people who could use that medical knowledge were the religious, particularly various monastic orders, considered an act of charity care for the sick, an order that is devoted to this activity was that of Benedictine. The convents, who preserved the books of Hippocrates and Galen and other medical texts, were initially seats which taught the art of medicine, but then in the Middle Ages was founded the Salerno School of Medicine. It seems to have been born around the ninth or tenth century, thanks to this important medicine school was taught outside the monasteries. We can assume that the monks had to have played an important role in all this, as the convents of Salerno and the one next to the Abbey of Cava, covered an important role among the Benedictine order. This monastic order, has had an important role to cure the sick, in the territory of Fabriano and its neighbor. How not to think of the sulphurous thermal springs of San Vittore fraction of Genga, water used in Ancient Rome. We can assume that the Abbey of St. Victor She closed the Church in Romanesque style, and the great Benedictine monastery to which he belonged, whose documented evidence of its existence is the 1007, has arisen to exploit the thermal springs. It can be assumed that Benedictine monks even there, as in other parts of Italy and Salerno, dedicated themselves to the care of the sick, using the medical knowledge of the ancient Romans. After all, it is no secret that in ancient Rome the thermal waters were used for medical purposes, consider, for example, to those of Acquasanta Terme also cited by the historian Livy and very popular in antiquity. Probably, thanks to the fame and medical healing thermal water, the Benedictines of St. Victor were able to expand, until you get to exercise control over 42 churches and numerous territories and surrounding property. But then, after a period of splendor, they know a long and steady decline in the late thirteenth. Probably the decline began with the loss of control of the religious on the medicine, as in other parts of Europe. The birth of the great University of Medicine coincides with the end of the thirteenth century, we think of the one in Bologna, Paris, Padua, Montpellier, form new generations of doctors lay supplanting the religious who had hitherto had the monopoly of Medicine. In conclusion, we can make a consideration, although some care and medical treatment of the Middle Ages were completely wrong, others are still relevant, consider, for example, thermal treatments, considered by modern medicine still valid, despite the fact that for centuries it was practiced.

Paolo Carnevali

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