Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hospital of Sampson in Constantinople

Constantinople at about 1200 AD
Image from Cartographers Guild.com

The Hospital of Sampson
The largest free clinic in the Empire and served the
people of Constantinople for 600 years.

The Hospital of Sampson is an example of the huge differences between the still standing Eastern Empire and the barbarized West where illiteracy and poverty were the rule.

Sampson the Hospitable (died c. 530) was a citizen of Constantinople who devoted his time to serving the poor of the city. He is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Churches.

Sampson was born in Rome to a prominent family. He was a physician who devoted much of his time to helping the poor and sick. He turned his home into a free clinic, providing his patients with food and lodging as well as medical care. He was later ordained a priest by the patriarch.

Saint Sampson the Hospitable

When the Byzantine emperor Justinian the Great became ill he sent for Sampson to cure him. He was the only physician in the city to do the Emperor any good, and the Emperor wanted to reward him. Sampson requested that the Emperor help him establish a new hospital for the poor.

When Hagia Eirene and Hagia Sophia were destroyed by fire during the Nika Riot in 532, also the Hospital of Sampson burned down, which lay between them, and was subsequently restored by Emperor Justinian.

The Hospital of Sampson formed a complex together with the Hagia Sophia, Hagia Eirene and some other subsidiary building, and it was served by the same clergy.

With the emperor's assistance Sampson founded the hospital, which became the largest free clinic in the empire and served the people of Constantinople for 600 years.

Sampson was buried in the Church of the Holy Martyr Mocius in Constantinople.

It was on his feast day that Peter the Great defeated Charles XII of Sweden in the Battle of Poltava. This led to his veneration in Russia, including the construction of St Sampson's Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Remains of this large building with a colonnaded courtyard were excavated south of Hagia Eirene after World War II.

The Hospital of Sampson was located between the Hagia Eirene and Hagia Sophia. 
All were destroyed by fire during the Nika Riot in 532. They were subsequently restored by Emperor Justinian.
This image used under FAIR USE from Byzantium1200.
Review for comment, criticism and scholarship as allowed under FAIR USE section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C.
The website Byzantium 1200 published an article on the Hospital of Sampson.  The historians and artists are groping in the dark.  The hospital vanished long ago.  They are using accounts by those who were there and surviving examples of Roman architecture in other parts of the empire.
In this case the recreation of the hospital falls flat.  The artists give us noting of real interest to grab on to and no meaningful historical context.
(Sampson the Hospitable)


Unknown said...

would like to know what are your sources for this

Gary said...

There is a Wikipedia link at the bottom of the article