Accordingly, the Pope extended an invitation which, under the circumstances, must have been practically a command, to Guy or Guido of Montpelier, the administrative head to whom the hospital there owed its successful organization, to come to Rome and establish a hospital of his order in the Papal capital. He provided the order with a sufficient foundation in what is now known as the Borgo, not far from the present Vatican. On this was erected, at the beginning of the thirteenth century, a hospital of the Holy Spirit, which still exists there, though, of course, the building has been many times renewed since the original foundation. This hospital of the Holy Spirit soon attained a world-wide reputation for careful nursing and medical attendance and for the discretion with which its surgical cases were treated. It was understood that all the ailing picked up on the streets should be brought to the hospital, and that all the wounded and injured would be welcomed there. Besides, certain of the attendants of the hospital went out every day to look for any patients who might {251} be neglected or be without sufficient care, especially in the poorer quarters of the city, and these were also transported to the hospital. This old Santo-Spirito hospital then was exactly the model of our modern city hospitals.

Pope Innocent’s idea, however, was not to establish a hospital at Rome alone, but his fatherly solicitude went out to every city in Christendom. In accordance with this pre-determined plan, by personal persuasion, by the display of an interest in hospital work, and by official Papal encouragement he succeeded in having, during his own pontificate, a number of hospitals established in all parts of the then civilized world on the model of this hospital of the Holy Ghost at Rome. The initiative thus given proved lasting, and even after the Pontiff’s death hospitals of the Holy Ghost continued to multiply in various parts of Europe, until scarcely a city of any importance was without one.

James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science (1908)


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