Saturday, September 7, 2013

Church and the Medical Science

Medical Science then he said
Guy de Chauliac while dissecting
a Human Body, Chirurgia Magana

cannot breathe freely because of suppressive act made by religious authorities – the Catholic Church.

Patients were advice to look to miracles rather than to medicine for their relief from sickness. Prayers without any concoction of medicine were prescribe and primitive ritual (Mass) with equivalent cost that a patient (had to be paid for) were said to do well than any medical care.

Training on Basic Survival Techniques – a man at the podium holding a microphone is a General Surgeon by profession.

Time and again, he keeps on insisting that the role of the Church then was to prevent the progress of Medical science. For him, this field of science seen as a new threat by the kingdom-of-superstition, reason for this authoritarian office to do all in order to suppress the growth of man’s curiosity in the field of medicine (a common reaction were either putting the victim/s on a trial meant to convict or to test his human flesh using a brutal torture for force recantation).

Well, this assertion of course is based on simple supposition without any factual basis.

Guy de Chauliac – Father of Surgery

In early 14th Century, the Papal Court invited a clergyman from St. Just Church named Guy de Chauliac, this cleric is the most eminent surgeon of his time. He wrote seven volumes of dissertation that open the doors to modern surgery – the Chirurgia Magana

It covered all basic aspects of surgery including anesthesia, blood clotting, surgical tools, diets and the different processes of performing surgeries such as suturing and intubation. During the Medieval time, this treatise was a bold step in the domain of medicine and modern science. Completed in 1363, this compilation stayed in popular use until the early stages of the 17th century. He also greatly emphasized on the human ‘Anatomy’, which he considered a basic theory in the domain of medicine. (The Famous People)

He is referred to as the Father of Surgery, and on that period as testified by history, he was summoned not to put him on trial or force this pious man to recant what he has been stored in his mind about science, rather, he was invited to bestow the official title as PAPAL PHYSICIAN to Pope Clement VI (1342-1352). Soon when the Pope died, his successor (Pope Innocent VI – 1352-1362) assigned Chauliac as his personal physician and then to Pope Urban V (1362-1370).

This clergyman who died in 1368 had never put on trial nor were his findings suppressed by the so called ‘Authoritarian-Office-of-Superstition’ that the speaker would have us to believe. The questions is, if this Office-of-Superstition is a bitter opposition to Medical Science, authoritative in prescribing that ONLY prayer were enough and no need for any concoction of drugs for the cure of illnesses, then we should expect says Dr. James J. Walsh that there was no such official as Papal Physician (The Pope & Science-1911). But then, as provided above, it says on the contrary.

Theodoric Borgognoni – Catholic Bishop and a Papal Physician

He is a member of Dominican order and aside for being a Bishop of Cervia, he too, was a Papal Physician. He was a personal doctor to Pope Innocent IV (1195-1254), a leading medical surgeon and author (and compiler) of a book on surgery (Cyrurgia) wherein in the introduction he said: ‘under the guidance of Christ, of revealing the secrets of the surgical art’.

Bishop Theodoric was significant in stressing the importance of cleanliness as major contributor in wound healing. He insisted that the practice of encouraging the development of pus in wounds, (an unhygienic approach handed down from ancient sources (Arabic medicine in particular)) be replaced by more antiseptic approach, with the wound being cleaned and then sutured to promote healing. Bandage according to him, must be pre-soaked in wine as a form of disinfectant.

The ‘Spongiae somniferae’ or sponge soaked in a dissolved solution of opium, mandrake, hemlock, mulberry juice, ivy and other herbal concoction and was held beneath the patient’s nose to induce unconsciousness is an early attempt to the use of anesthetics in surgery was made and promoted by him.

Bishop Theodoric (who appeared in the history of medical science earlier than to Guy de Chauliac) also belonged to the religious body having a prestige title of PAPAL PHYSICIAN. Again, why the Pope/s themselves asked for the expertise of these two people if they themselves were belong to the institution who did not believe in the efficacy of medicines? Why do they need a PAPAL PHYSICIAN if they don’t give any merit on the cure effect of medical healing?

Other equally important names in this field of science were also a Catholic Clerics who had taken religious order, though they were not PAPAL PHYSICIAN but their contribution in propagating the development of medical healing are worthy of praise – William of Saliceto and his student Lanfranc of Milan.

William of Saliceto was the best Italian surgeon in 13th Century; he was a professor at the University of Bologna and instrumental in setting up a School of Surgery. He was the author of Summa conservationis et curationis. He also stressed the importance of regular bathing for infants and special care for the hygiene of pregnant women. Lanfrance of Milan was a student of William and credited with transferring the surgical techniques of William to France, he was also known as the founder of French School of Surgery.

Truly, the existence of these personal physician for supreme pontiff (a top hierarchy) and the fact that most patron of medical science were religious man is suffice to translate (and if not, the possible best explanation) why there are so many Hospitals and Universities during that time, built and funded by the Church dedicated to attend the suffering of the poor sickly people using the medical method. And truly to say, and to borrow the word of Dr. Walsh, Patient were not left to die, with only hope of prayers to relive their suffering, but they were cared for as skillfully as the rising science of the time knew how and with the tenderness that religious care has always been able to give.

Now, by scanning the pages of history, the fact that no single papal document issued against the field of medicine, no single curious mind was put on trial on performing such kind of activities, suffice to say that – on the contrary, against the accusation of those who knew nothing about the real history of medical science, this field of knowledge (Medical Healing) is one from many field that were not hampered in any way, rather, it is sedulously fostered and encouraged by the Church …. And as Dr. Walsh said the devoted students were prominent churchmen.

Manuscript image of Guy de Chauliac

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