Care for the Sick in Shenoute's Monasteries

Gawdat Gabra and Hany N. Takla

in Christianity and Monasticism in Upper Egypt

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9789774161223
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970450 | DOI:
Care for the Sick in Shenoute's Monasteries

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Care for the sick was a shared value at the heart of the early monastic movement, and certainly this was the case in Shenoute's monasteries. This chapter explores the medical and institutional aspects of care for the sick by outlining the basic contours of this important component of monastic life in Shenoute's monasteries. In Shenoute's monasteries, the infirmary served the acutely ill. Coenobitic literature from Egypt in general indicates that the infirmary formed an expected and functionally vital component of the coenobitic life. Unlike virtually every other type of ancient medical care, including that provided in many 4th- and 5th-century semi-eremitical monasteries in Egypt and elsewhere, coenobitic monasteries offered inpatient care under the supervision of trained healers, including a nursing staff and doctors. The writings of Shenoute and Besa are important witnesses to this tradition of monastic healing. It is to be noted that while the monasteries of Shenoute provided a range of charitable services for non-monks, use of the infirmary was restricted to the monastic sick.

Keywords: Shenoute; monasteries; sick; monastic life; infirmary; monastic healing; coenobitic monasteries

Chapter.  4279 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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