Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Christianity

  • Martyrs and saints in art, history, and medicine

    The concept of martyrdom has deep roots in religious traditions. Christian martyrs suffered and died for their faith, such as Saint Stephen, who was the first Christian martyr, as well as St. Sebastian pierced with arrows and St. Joan of Arc burned at the stake. In Islam, the term “shahid” refers to persons who died…

  • Santa Margherita da Cortona

    Susan Brunn PuettJ. David PuettChapel Hill, North Carolina, United States From humble beginnings to years as a mistress, Margherita altered her path to become a tertiary Franciscan penitent, attending the ill and poor, founding a hospital, and devoting herself to Christ. She was in the vanguard of several other women of the late Middle Ages…

  • Can headless martyrs really walk? The belief in cephalophores in the Middle Ages

    Andrew Wodrich Washington, DC   Saint Denis of Paris holding his severed head. Mid-15th century depiction from an illuminated prayer book (Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 5, fol. 35v, 84.ML.723.35v). The halos surrounding his decapitated head as well as the stump of his neck suggest that the soul and saintliness of St. Denis remain in…

  • Dr. David Hartley and the benevolent AI

    Erik AndersonHouston, Texas Question posed to ChatGPT: What is the “Golden Rule”?ChatGPT answer*: The “Golden Rule” is a principle found in many different cultures and ethical traditions and often phrased as “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”1 Presently, artificial intelligence (AI) applications such as ChatGPT are exceptional at reiterating information, but do…

  • And for unto us… Medicine, Messiah, and Christmas

    Desmond O’NeillDublin, Ireland Although the very first performance of the Messiah took place in April 1742 in Dublin with the London première following in March 1743, the oratorio is closely associated with the Christmas season in the Anglophone world. The origin of this custom has been claimed by the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston…

  • The wounds of Christ and Prometheus – two of a kind?

    Julia van RosmalenThomas van GulikAmsterdam, Netherlands The myth of Prometheus has been a source of inspiration for many visual artists over the centuries. Prometheus, a Titan, was punished by the supreme god Zeus for giving to mankind the Olympic fire, with which they learned to think and feel. He was chained to a cliff in…

  • Emblems and psychological medicine on the Sutton Hoo purse

    Stephen Martin Durham, England, and Thailand   The recent film The Dig1 has brought into the wider public eye the story of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial.2 The burial mound, at Sutton Hoo, in Sussex, England,3,4 contained a high-status figure, almost certainly Royal. The most expensive of the grave goods5 are high-craftsmanship gold, set with very…

  • Faith and patron saints during the Black Death

    Mariella ScerriMellieha, Malta The Black Death of 1348 was the greatest biomedical disaster in European history. Although it was not the first plague epidemic, the Black Death swept through Europe, killing millions indiscriminately and affecting society like no other natural calamity.1 Attempts to understand the plague began with science, but the search for answers was…

  • Science versus religion: the medieval disenchantment

    JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. An engraving showing a monopod or sclapod, a female Cyclops, conjoined twins, a blemmye, and a cynocephali. By Sebastian Münster 1544. Source History is a novel whose author is the people. -Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863)   In medieval times, knowledge, beliefs, and faith were largely centered upon a…

  • We are all hospitalized (metaphorically speaking)

    F. Gonzalez-CrussiChicago, Illinois, United States Among the many species of adversity that unavoidably befall us during life, to become a hospitalized patient is not the slightest. Today, hardly anyone is exempted: life begins and ends inside hospital quarters. We are born in some obstetrics suite and die amid beeps of life-supporting equipment, the hiss of…