Ministry to the Sick
Part 2 History

Chapter s23 Early Medieval Period
[800-1199 CE]

Secular History

Church History

Ministry to the Sick and Dying

Secular History

Europe's population doubled between 1000 and 1300. Life expectancy was probably not much higher than age 25 around the year 1000 CE, but closer to 35 by 1300 CE.

hospitality - hotel - hospital

While Christian Europe was in the "dark ages" science flourished among Muslims in the East.  Avicenna  (Ibn Sina) was a Persian physician, philosopher, and scientist born in Uzbekistan (then Persia) in 980 [370 AH] and died in 1037 in Iran.  The author of 450 books, he was one of the most famous scientists of all times.   An exceptional intellect, he had memorized the entire Qur'an by the age of 7 and a great deal of Persian poetry as well.  Next he studied Aristotle -- he read the Metaphysics more than 40 times.  At 16 he turned to medicine and achieved full status as a physician at age 18.   His 14 volume The Canon of Medicine was used as the standard medical text in Western Europe for seven centuries.  His metaphysical works influenced the scholastic philosophers.  (For the complete article see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avicenna )

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Church History

1150 CE Peter Lombard   (c. 1100 -- July 20, 1160 in Paris) was a scholastic theologian and bishop of the 12th century.  In 1159, he was named bishop of Paris.  Peter Lombard's most famous work was "Libri quatuor sententiarum, the "Book of Sentences." This served as the standard textbook of theology at the medieval universities, from the 1220s until the 16th century. There is no work of Christian literature, except for the Bible itself, that has been commented upon more frequently. All the major medieval thinkers, from Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas to William of Ockham and Gabriel Biel, were influenced by it. Even the young Martin Luther still wrote glosses on the "Sentences."  ["Peter Lombard." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 9 Feb 2006, 08:49 UTC. 11 Feb 2006, 02:00.]

Origin of our Seven Sacraments  Peter Lombard in the "Sentences" names Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Holy Orders, and Matrimony as sacraments.  These seven are commented on by the scholastics (e.g. Thomas Aquinas) and are later accepted by Trent as THE seven sacraments. 

Development of a theology of priesthood

Monastic chapter of faults develops into spiritual direction and Tariff Penance

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Ministry to the Sick

Extreme Unction is "disconnected" from physical healing and understood as primarily as a sacrament which forgives sins.  As only a priest can forgive sins (having the "power of jurisdiction"), only a priest can anoint with the sacramental oil.   The ancient tradition of lay anointing is lost.

As the way we commit sin is through the five senses; consequently, the senses are anointed in Extreme Unction with the prayer "may the Lord forgive you whatever sins you have committed through the sense of taste, sight, etc.

The sacrament of anointing is now understood as the immediate preparation for death.  The sequence of the "last rites" moves from confession / anointing / viaticum to confession / viaticum / Extreme Unction.

The sacrament is delayed until the person is at the point of death.  Anointing of the Sick becomes Extreme Unction

Funerals varied greatly according to local customs.

Shift in popular piety from "faith in the Resurrection" to "fear of damnation" brings about a change in the image of God from "merciful Father" to a "Judge demanding expiation".  

Development of concept of purgatory and prayers for release of poor souls. 

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 09/11/12.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org