We need to remember that the great imaginative invention we now call the hospital was the result of a people, monks, who thought that even amidst the injustices of the world you could take time to be with the dying. They cared for the dying by being present even when they could not cure – a reminder that medicine is not justified by the power to heal, but by the refusal to abandon those who are sick even when there is little we can do other than to be present.

Stanley Hauerwas, Working With Words (via invisibleforeigner)

A characteristically powerful statement from Stanley, though the first hospital seems to have been created by a bishop in a city, Basil the Great — for whom “great” is too weak a word — who built a complex in Caesarea that provided food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, healing for the sick, and compassionate care for the dying. You can read about his beautiful work, and that of the other Cappadocian fathers and mothers of the Church, in my friend Susan Holman’s book The Hungry Are Dying.