Healing in the History of Christianity

By Amanda Porterfield | Go to book overview

3
Healing in Medieval
Christianity

In The History of the Franks (c. 592), Gregory of Tours described a healer outside of Nice with "iron chains wound round his body, next to the skin," and "a hair-shirt on top." For most of the year, the healer, Hospicius, "ate nothing but dry bread and a few dates." (During Lent, he made broth from "Egyptian herbs," to which, Gregory observed, "hermits are greatly addicted.") "Through the agency of this holy man," according to Gregory, "the Lord deigned to perform remarkable miracles," including the restoration of hearing and speech to a young man struck deaf and dumb during a fever. That young man had been on his way to Rome, accompanied by a deacon, hoping that a visit to the tombs of the apostles would produce a cure. Along the way, the deacon stopped in to see Hospicius after leaving the young man, who was consumed with fever and "a tremendous ringing in his ears," at a nearby inn. "Hospicius felt miraculous powers rising in him through the Spirit of our Lord" and instructed the deacon to bring the stricken fellow straight to his hut. Hastening to the inn, the deacon "seized" the young man by the arm "and rushed him off to the Saint," who treated the patient vigorously, as Gregory described:

Hospicius laid his hand on the man's hair and pulled his
head in through the window. He took some oil, consecrated
it, held the man's tongue tight in his left hand and poured
the oil down his throat and over the top of his head. "In the

-67-

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