Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

L'Hôpital Entre Religions et Laïcité Du Moyen ÂGe À Nos Jours

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

L'Hôpital Entre Religions et Laïcité Du Moyen ÂGe À Nos Jours

Article excerpt

L'Hôpital entre religions et laïcité du Moyen Âge à nos jours. Edited by Jacqueline Lalouette with the collaboration of Elisabeth Belmas, Marie-José Michel and Serenella Nonnis-Vigilante. [Mémoire chrétienne au présent, Number 4.] (Paris: Letouzey & Ane. 2006. Pp. 303. euro32,00 paperback.)

The essays in this collection are the products of a two-day colloquy attended by a range of delegates from the French academic, medical, and political professions in November 2005. In the light of new legislation and charters on medical deontology, hospitalization, and patient rights, the colloquy's participants sought to "measure and reflect" on the ways in which these had been expressed in hospitals, hospices, and other medical institutions in the past, how they were expressed in the contemporary health and welfare system, and how they might be translated in the future. The result of these deliberations is an interesting set of essays composed by historians and health professionals. They concentrate principally on the historical articulation of health care and welfare, with little emphasis placed on contemporary or potential structures and practices. The contributions generally provide revealing case studies, distinguished by regionality and religious classifications, although the editors have not devoted great attention to assimilating their individual findings. Equally, although its title suggests that the volume is concerned with religion and laicization from the Middle Ages, only one essay, Chiara Devoti's essay on the hospital in Aosta, Northern Italy, actually contains more than a passing reference to that period. There are also only three essays on the early modern period: Marie-Claude Dinet-Lecomte offers a solid survey of female religious orders in hospitals to the French Revolution, under the banners of feminization, clericalization, and Congregationalism; Vilma Fasoli examines the tensions between science and charity in the provision of hospital care at Santa Maria dei Battuti in Udine, the Republic of Venice, in the second half of the eighteenth century; Serenella Nonnis-Vigilante provides a stimulating analysis of the relationship between political dominance and laicization in the battle between scientific positivism and religious traditions within Turin from the eighteenth century. The other essays, fifteen in total, are all post-Revolution in chronology, but include a useful view, as the early modern selection did, of hospitals and laicization outside France (Catherine Maurer's explicitly comparative study of French and German urban institutions). …

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