Across the entire world Orphanages & Hospitals, large and small, are designed to serve the sick and the abandoned, but, it was not always so.
There were always doctors, but not always Orphanages & Hospitals
Not in classical antiquity, Not among the pagans, Nor in the ancient world.

Christianities 1st Nurse – 55 AD – Phoebe was nursing history’s first nurse and the Church’s most noted deaconess.

Phoebe (Koine Greek Φοίβη) was a first-century Christian woman mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans, (verses 16:1-2). A notable woman in the church of Cenchreae, she was trusted by Paul to deliver his letter to the Romans. Paul refers to her both as a deacon (Gk. diakonon) and as a helper or patron of many (Gk. prostatis). This is the only place in the New Testament where a woman is specifically referred to with these two distinctions. Paul introduces Phoebe as his “emissary” to the church in Rome and, because they are not acquainted with her, Paul provides them with her credentials.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.

— Paul[Rom. 16:1-2]
The name Phoebe means “pure”, “radiant”, or “bright”;

Paul’s letter to the Romans was written in Corinth;
The Apostle Paul used the Greek diakonos (διάκονος) to designate Phoebe as a deacon. A transliteration of the original Greek, it is the same word as used elsewhere by Paul to refer to deacons. The word deacon in Paul’s writings sometimes refers to a Christian designated to serve with the overseers of the church, while it more often refers to “servants” in a general sense. In the letter to the Romans, apart from the debated case of Phoebe, it always refers to “servants” in the generic sense, as opposed to a church office.
However, Paul’s use of the term “deacon” suggests that, like Stephen and Philip, Phoebe’s ministry may have extended beyond charitable works to include preaching and evangelization.

When did the first Orphanages & Hospitals appear?

There are few who know that orphanages & hospitals are in fact an invention of the Early Christian Church. And we can say with confidence that this invention of the Church is an embodiment of the Christian love for mankind.
The Early Church, especially in Rome and its provinces, seeing the needs of people, and their suffering, could not remain indifferent. Love always finds a way to serve one’s neighbor.
From the Apostles and the Disciples of the Apostles, like Clement of Rome and Polycarp, these saints, took in and cared for the unwanted, the sick and the poor.

After Christ Jesus himself, the caring for Orphans, the Sick and the Poor had become the First Love of the Early Church.

The fourth century was the turning point in the history of Christianity; persecution ceased, and the Church could breathe freely.
In 372 AD, a famous complex was completed, which became known as “The Basileiad”. The Holy Hierarch “Saint Basil the Great” had persuaded the rich to invest in this undertaking, and convinced the poor to participate in the realization of his idea.

This complex was the 1st of its kind; In the center, there was a magnificent church, and around it there were structures, guest houses/hotels, schools, Orphanages, homes for the poor, and the Hospital itself.

Such a thing had not existed anywhere else before, and Saint Basil personally supervised the work, gave advice to the builders, and worked himself.

This complex came about because in the middle of the fourth century, famine broke out and Saint Basil, then a priest, immediately created free public canteens for those suffering from hunger. To achieve this, he had to fight, prove, hunt for, and even scream at the rich, to convince them to open their food supplies and share with the hungry.

It was then, during the terrible winter of 367 that Saint Basil understood he needed to create his own organization—an institution that would serve the suffering. This strong man could patiently bare his infirmities, but he could not bare to see the suffering of others.

It was from this beginning, Christian Orphanages & Hospitals grew apace, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s there were 37,000  monasteries alone that cared for the orphans & the sick as a matter of FAITH and the construction of a Orphanages & Hospitals began in every cathedral and monastery throughout Christendom.

The modern hospital owes its origins to Christian compassion. Evidence of the vast expansion of faith-based hospitals is seen in the legacy of their names: St. Vincent’s, St. Luke’s, Mt. Sinai, Presbyterian, Mercy, and Beth Israel. These were all charitable hospitals, some of which began as foundling hospitals to care for abandoned children and the sick.

Christians have been leaders in medicine and the building of Orphanages & Hospitals because their founder, Jesus of Nazareth, healed the sick during his ministry on earth, the early church not only endorsed Medicine, but championed the care of Orphans the Sick and the Poor.


By the middle ages, government authorities and philanthropic organisations began taking over Orphanages & Hospitals;

And the Church and the Monasteries abandoned its First Love.

The Christ like Christian care for the Orphaned, the Sick and the Poor had become secular; Theology became a problem; The Protestant reformers rejected the belief that rich men could gain God’s grace through good works and the church abruptly ceased to be the supporters of orphanages and hospitals and the poor.

But Christ said , “We should take care of ‘the poor, the widows, the orphans, the maimed, the lame and the blind’ like Christ did and like Christ taught HIS followers to do.

But today we Christians say – “This is not our job; let the government do it.” But government healthcare completely disregards the spiritual part of human care, governments do not care about health, it’s all motivated by power and money and the ever-expanding secular humanism under the guise of “democracy”, “freedom” and “tolerance” exerts strong social pressure against living out one’s Christian faith in the public square.

Jesus Christ shows us and teaches us, (HIS followers), how to heal the sick and care for the poor, the brokenhearted, the lost and the forgotten.

But we Christians think – “I  have no gifts, no talents, I’m not a evangelist or a priest or pastor;  I’m just a ordinary layperson, so I’ll just sit in my cushioned pew, singing hymns and listening to sermons, I’m not properly equipped, however in TRUTH, Christians today have unprecedented wealth as compared to previous Christian generations.

But that same Spirit, the Holy Spirit, that Christ sent to the Apostles in the 1st Church meeting (in the Book of Acts chapter 2) that gave the Apostles and the disciples of the Apostles and every Great Man and Woman of God great power, wisdom and strength abides in HIS followers today!

So stand up and be an active Christian; GO OUT,  Visit the Sick, Help the Poor, Care for Orphans, Care for Widows, Visit Prisons, Clothe the Naked, Help a Stranger, if these are too hard, buy a bottle of water and give it to the homeless; all these actions when done are done to Jesus Christ HIMSELF!

Compiled by various writers and sermons of Fr Themi

2018 – 16 Orphans for Fr Themi from P4K Videos on Vimeo.

2018 – P4K Orphan Community Care from P4K Videos on Vimeo.

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