After the story of the Papal Physicians, the most important phase of the relations of the Popes to the medical sciences is to be found in the story of the Papal Medical School. While it seems to be generally ignored by those who are not especially familiar with the history of medical education, a medical school existed in connection with the Papal University at Rome during many centuries–according to excellent authorities, from the beginning of the fourteenth century–and this medical school had, as we have said elsewhere, during nearly two centuries some of the most distinguished professors of medicine in its ranks, and boasts among its faculty some of the greatest discoverers in the medical sciences, and especially in anatomy. For these two centuries it had but two important rivals, Padua and Bologna. Both of these were in Italy, and one, that of the University of Bologna, was in a Papal city, that is, was under the political dominion of the Popes. The best medical teaching, then, was to be found in the Papal States and under conditions such, that if there had been the slightest opposition, or indeed anything but the most cordial encouragement for medical study, the medical schools of Rome and Bologna would surely have languished instead of flourishing beyond all others.

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


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