PEACE IN THE RUINS: Drawing the Hospital of Sampson

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THE SAINTS COME MARCHING IN

SAINT SAMPSON

Did Hospital come from Hospitable?

St Sampson the Hospitable
St Sampson the Hospitable

St Sampson the Hospitable, aka St Sampson the Innkeeper and Unmercenary, was the son of rich important Romans. Already well-educated, he continued to study medicine, and doctored the sick without charge. When his parents died he set his slaves free, passed out alms and prepared himself to go into the wilderness– which was likely anywhere outside of Rome.

Eventually he went East to Constantinople: Eastern Rome. He moved into a small house, took in strays– poor and sick people– and cared for them. Undoubtedly a good doctor, he was credited with healing hands, if not outright miracles. His fame grew and with it his ability to treat more people.

The Patriarch of Constantinople, in recognition of Sampson’s great virtue, ordained him to the holy priesthood. St Sampson the Hospitable kept many alive, but died young, in about CE 530, and was buried at the Church of Holy Martyr Mokios in Constantinople.

SAINT MOKIOS

St Mokios1
St Mokios the Unmercenary

Scratch one saint in this town and you find another.  St Mokios was another great physician, one of the Holy Unmercenary Physicians, twenty doctors in antiquity who refused to accept money for their services. They were all canonized.

Synaxis Holy Unmercenaries
Synaxis (Reunion) of the Holy Unmercenaries

Judging by his beard, St Sampson appears second from right in the front row. The earliest precepts of Christianity include acceptance and treatment of the sick, as evidenced by this painting of Christ visiting the lepers.

Umercenaries visit Lepers
Christ Healing the Ten Lepers, Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenaries

St Mokios was beheaded around 295 for exhorting pagans to convert. His church was built on the site of a Temple of Zeus by Constantine in the next century, collapsed and was re-built by Justinian. Poetically, Sampson was interred there. People came to his tomb to be healed. His ghost continued, it is said, to kindly haunt his Hospital. Twice it upbraided a worker for laziness. Imagine the ashen-faced nurse trying to report that to a superior.

1123 hospital
A Hospital in 1123

A GHOST OF A CHANCE

A huge fire in Constantinople burned so fiercely that the lead sheets on the top of Hagia Sophia melted, it was said, and poured like rain. Fervent prayers to St Sampson preceded a deluge of real rain that put out the fire and saved the hospital. Think of the staff and patients alike shouting in prayer, nurses helping cripples to kneel, others lying muttering, flat on their backs clutching crucifixes, flickering light on the medical treatises rolled in the pigeonholes, doctors frozen with their instruments, eyes squeezed shut or white all the way around in terror, the air charged, the tension pulled to the snapping point, and the final, overwhelming crash of thunder, the release of rain, the screams of relief and joy, of renewed faith.

Day 6
Day 10: Peace in the Ruins ©2014 Trici Venola. Not anywhere near finished.

Here’s a splendid cathedral in St Petersburg, Russia, in honor of the Saint.

Cathedral
The Cathedral of St Sampson the Hospitable in St Petersburg, Russia

Azure and white, with its own reflection pool, it houses this spectacular iconostasis.

iconostasis-in-st-sampson-cathedral-in-st-petersburg
Iconostasis in St Sampson’s Cathedral, St Petersburg, Russia

I think of the actual Saint and his austerity, his love for the poor.

  1. Joy Lumb

    Very enjoyable and emotive of the moody surroundings. Lovely artwork and writing! You did it all! I am a friend of Leslie Foale and she has told me about you. We are both on the Isle of Skye. Best Wishes to you and thank you for such a meaningful and moving post.

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