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Arch Hellen Med, 28(4), July-August 2011, 561-568


The dialectic relationship between medicine and miracles in the Eastern Christian Roman Empire

A.F. Mentis,1 E. Kararizou2
1Medical School, University of Athens, Athens,
2Department of Neurology, "Eginitio" Hospital, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

In the literature, miracles are often placed in a position antagonistic to conventional medicine, and are co-examined in the context of "folklore medical wisdom". Despite the fact that in later years the study of the lives of saints and of their miracles has attracted the interest of historians, it is debatable whether their miracles could be considered as a specific therapeutic practice, entirely discrete from traditional "folklore" medical wisdom. This article aims to show that the medical practice as exercised by the Church fully recognizes the classical medical science of that era, which in this light can be seen to offer what has been described as "holistic medicine". Elements of different categories of miracles are reported, with a special emphasis on miracles in specific groups, such as women, children and elderly people, along with examples from various different nosological entities, such as psychiatric, neurological and ophthalmological miracles and transplantations. The reports of miracles, in combination with the progress of medicine in Byzantium provide evidence that lay people in the Byzantine epoch had a very deep concern for the body and its cure from pathological conditions and diseases.

Key words: Byzantium, Dialectic, Medicine, Miracles.

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