In the year AD 313 Constantine the Great made public proclamations that made a distinct change in official Roman policy in favour of Christianity. The First Council of Nicaea was a meeting of Christian bishops, convened in Bithynia (present-day Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in A.D. 325. The Council was historically significant as the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom. It proclamated the each Church should house an infirmary. The monasteries continued after the fall of the Roman Empire to maintain the infirmaries as well became the sole institutions of higher learning. The monasteries were run by religious Orders, and there was the Knights of St John formed in Jerusalem (circa 1050 A.D.), later to be known as the Hospitallers. This institution became the world's largest hospital. As a medical mission established by the Amalfi traders of Italy, the Hospitallers were not officially recognized until 1113 when Paschal II formalized them into an order. It eventually became not only an institution for tending the sick, but also a capable and formidable fighting force and sovereign state leading up to the renaissance.

The monasteries from the collapse of the Roman Empire up until the renaaisance were the only institutions of medical learning, and their teachings and practices became to be known as monastic medicine. Monastic Medicine is the historical predecessor of nature cure (aka naturopathy) as well as colonial medicine as it developed in the New World. Much of the rich history, traditions, and practices of this art nearly lost with the transition from monastic medicine to the renaissance, nature cure, colonial medicine, including (but not limited to) therapeutics, herbal and indigenous medicines. The mission of this Order is to preserve monastic medicine which we proclaim as an 'intangible cultural heritage.' We promote and offer post-graduate degree programs through our PanAmerican University for practitioners. Upon graduation, we offer a Commission (license) for those wishing to practice under the Church with this great art.

Health sovereignty is generally considered to be the exercise of a secular state's sovereign power to protect and promote health and provide health services. A sovereign state is classically defined as a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty and police power over its citizens. Few people realize that there is also the ecclesiastical state, a form of religious government in which the official policy is to be governed by divine guidance from officials who are pursuant to the doctrine of Christ as a religious Order. Thus became the doctrine – separation of Church and State. We support protections for our Church, Religion, Culture, traditional medicines and foods, and members in general, under international laws, protection of human rights, and preservation of a cultural heritage. These are assured in international law.

This sacred religious Order is a millennium long lineage of a tradition of monks, physicians, medics, and nurses (Hospitaller’s) who lived apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion and worship - that of medical care for the poor and needy, and defense of the Christian culture and faith. This Order is a modern continuance and is composed of initiates (laity), communicants, members of vocation, and ordained clergy. Members strive to achieve a common purpose through formally dedicating their life to God's medicines and Christ's gospel to help and heal.

This active, Medical Order is the last such organization, carrying on the work of monastic medicine as today’s nature cure, and we wish to have it preserved for the benefit of future generations as well as serve a lasting memory of a movement that contributed significantly to the Renaissance of today's modern medicine. This heritage included languages, transcription, folk tales, ceremonies, modalities, etc. about traditional medicine, and all the medical and nursing skills that were handed down from generation to generation including surgery and ambulatory care. These traditions and practices reflect the spirit of members and communities of the Hospitaller’s from Europe to the Americas, to the Philippines. Yet this intangible heritage is at great risk as the natural and spiritual heritage must be preserved to the world for future posterity.

Prayer as medicine: how much have we lost?

The spiritual search for meaning and hope in life is integral to human existence. This is particularly evident during times of personal stress and crisis. Recent census findings indicate that 74% of Australians and 96% of Americans believe in a higher power, and similar percentages claim some form of religious affiliation. Evidence also suggests that certain spiritual beliefs and the practice of prayer are associated with improved coping and better health outcomes. The knowledge that spirituality has an impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals needs to be reflected in patient care. Research shows that patients consider prayer and spiritual issues to be important and express the conviction that health care providers should be respectful of their beliefs.

The origin of the abbreviation "Rx"

Actually, there is no x in Rx. The spelling Rx is an attempt to represent this symbol in English letters. The symbol was passed along through the ages. Rx is an abbreviation for the Latin word recipere, which means Òtake or Òtake thus. Long ago, this would not have been a direction to a patient but to an herbalist or chemist, preceding the physician's Òrecipe for preparing a medication.

Folk theories about the origin of the symbol Rx note its similarity to the ancient Egyptian, Eye of Horus. . Horus was an Egyptian god, the god of Nekhen, a village in Egypt, and god of the sky, of light, and of goodness. Other folk tales point to the ancient symbol for Zeus or Jupiter, gods whose protection may have been sought in times of need.

Monastic Medicine: Monastic medicine developed during the middle ages and was provided as part of a religious duty. Those living the monastic life are known by the generic terms monks (men) and nuns (women). Saint Fabiola was the first person on record to have found a Christian hospital in the late 4th century, into which she gathered sufferers out of the streets, and where she nursed the unfortunate victims of sickness and want. A member of a wealthy Roman family, Fabiola became a Christian ascetic, selling all her belongings and founding the first hospital in the Western world as we know it today.

The Rule of St Benedict states that "before and above all things, care must be taken of the sick, that they be served in the very truth as Christ is served." Virtually every monastery had an infirmary for the monks or nuns, and this led to provision being made for the care of outside patients. Almost half of the hospitals in medieval Europe were directly affiliated with monasteries, priories of the Knightly Orders or other religious institutions and hospices. Most of the religious communities formulated precise rules of conduct, required a uniform type of dress, and integrated worship services into their daily routine.

Monastic Medicine can be defined as: charitable medical services rendered to the poor using natural agents such as food, herbs, and water; and supernatural agents including spiritual counseling, prayer, divination, worship, fasting, and exorcism.

Monastic medicine had flourished both in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches from earliest Christian times to the Reformation, being reformed and renewed periodically by dynamic individuals with new emphases or departures from current medical practices. With the rise of the universities after the renaissance, the monastic control of education came to an end. Luther liberated Europe with the Reformation and in England allowed members of clergy to marry. Doctors in the clergy would now be referred to as clerical physicians and monastic vows were no longer required.

Clerical Medicine: The last vestiges of monastic medicine, transforming itself into protestant clerical medicine, played out during the time of Shakespeare in London. The Elizabethan era, considered the height of the English renaissance, inherited traditions of folk medicine, while many simpler notions and practices derived from learned sources had found their way into popular literature and become part of common speech. Clerical medicine represented an important transitional period in the history between medieval monastic medicine of Christendom and naturopathy (natural medicine) during which medicine and religion still uniquely coexisted. The ability for pastors to practice medicine in this religious context was based on the subordination (licensure) to the predominant realm of Anglican Church established by Henry VIII and was fostered by the recognized doctrine that the effectiveness of physical medicine was possible only because of this spiritual link as the religious basis for physical treatments.

It was the Imitation of Christ and the Primitive (early) Christians of the "purest ages" who inspired and encouraged the Anglican leader, John Wesley, to create a lasting movement based on his vision of the ancient Church. John Wesley (1703-1791) became the founder of Methodism. His religious movement, subsequently gave rise to numerous separate denominations, and would spread to the new world, and the thirteen colonies. "Justification by Faith," was a doctrine that was central to the developing Methodist movement. Utilizing those cardinal Christian virtues of prayer, temperance, and almsgiving, Wesley saw that the good and holy life, Imitatio Christi, demanded an active faith, combined with a duty to God and one's neighbor. His strong emphasis upon visiting the sick and providing medical advice and treatment to poorer members of society was to him a fundamental Christian principle, and central to its history and doctrine.

Wesley wrote his medical manual, Primitive Physic (1747), out of an absolute necessity to provide medicine to the poor. Yet it was also the case that Primitive Physic fitted into a much wider context and was characteristic of a growing religious movement that placed a high premium on social and medical action. This social action sprang from an active faith, undertaken in Christ's name, but informed by those shining examples of the early Christians who attempted to achieve pristine purity in the form of physical and spiritual health. The Methodist movement was, observes M. Schmidt, a "socially concerned Christianity," and the aim of this movement clearly involved medical practice.

In Wesley's time the causes of disease had been imperfectly understood, but there had been a strong belief in empiric "certain cures" and "tried remedies". Wesley had developed a reasoned view of which remedies were harmful, and was a thoughtful prescriber, feeling the need for treatment of the whole person. Wesley himself had claimed that men of learning had begun to set aside experience, to build on hypothesis, to form theories of diseases and their cure, and to submit these in the place of practical physics. As a firm believer in empiricism, Wesley had claimed that there was no more need for mystery in medicine than to appreciate the simple fact that "such a medicine removes such a pain" and should be used. The best physician, in Wesley's view, was not the one who talked best or who wrote best, but the one who performed the most cures, the one who walked the talk.

Clerical Medicine became the basis of natural medicine practice to which we owe Wesley a large and significant contribution. It could be claimed that he was one of our Fathers of Naturopathy. It can be thus be defined as: charitable medical services (Imitatio Christi) rendered to the poor using natural agents such as food, herbs, electricity, physic, water; "certain cures" and "tried remedies"; and supernatural agents including spiritual counseling, prayer, divination, and worship.

John Wesley (1704-1791) pioneered the use of 'physic' and electricity for the treatment of illness. In common with many other Anglican clergymen of the times, Wesley felt a compulsion, obligation, and duty to practice physic (natural medicine). The principle of pastoral care was strong in both the Puritan and Anglican traditions and such practices spread to the America's often being referred to as 'clerical medicine.' Father Kneipp practised the water cure, as modified by himself. In 1854 he became known as the 'cholera vicar' as a result of saving many lives in a village epidemic. His growing fame led to teaching others, including Benedict Lust, the ‘father’ of American naturopathy. Revered Sylvester Graham (1795-1851) was another Christian practitioner of nature cure as well as having invented and becoming famous for his Graham Crackers in 1829. Graham was a Presbyterian minister and avid vegetarian, who delivered lectures on the relationship between diet and disease. Graham had many devoted followers, known as Grahamites, who followed his principles, which included temperance, sexual restraint, and baths, in addition to vegetarianism.

Pastoral Medicine was the bringing together for the first time in modern history of the 19th century, members of two distinct circles of spiritual work. the original purpose of Pastoral Medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries was to train theologians in physical sciences, as developed by the medical profession, for the purpose of applying them in pastoral functions with its objective for the role of pastoral labors in rural districts and outposts remote from civilization. Priests would need to be trained in methods of hygiene, nutrition, first aid, and obstetrics.

The last published book in the 20th century on Pastoral Medicine was written by the Theosophist, Rudolf Steiner, in 1924. It was structured as a course of instruction of 11 Lectures, delivered the month of September 1924. It was circulated in manuscript form and the audience to whom the lectures were given was restricted to priests and doctors as they were intended to serve the esoteric needs of these two professions.

The central question of this book is how today's Church lost a special healing ministry and how can we reclaim back our culture, tradition and rights. In our view, the New Medicine of Hope is the sum of todayÕs knowledge, anatomical-physiological, as well as pathological-therapeutical; the former traditions of monastic and clerical medicine, and the principles of nature cure. This knowledge is necessary for the Christian in the exercise of his or her ministerial duties and functions. Health is the greatest of all possessions next to life, and it is only to be expected that every man and woman of faith should take a deep interest in whatever concerns bodily and mental health, its maintenance and recovery. In regard to pathology and therapeutics, there is more than two millennia of Christian tradition, using natural agents such as food, herbs, electricity, physic, water; "certain cures" and "tried remedies"; and supernatural agents including spiritual counseling, prayer, and worship, with concomitant application of sacred waters, salts, foods, herbs and essential oils.

This Order maintains a unique position to sustain an effective way to safeguard Christian medicine, to sustain and to ensure that we, as the bearers of this cultural heritage continue to transmit our knowledge and skills to future and younger generations. This active Medical Order is the last such organization carrying on the work of the Medicine of Hope through education and practice, and we wish to have it preserved for the benefit of future generations as well as serve a lasting memory of a movement that contributed significantly to the Renaissance of natural science and medicine, leading to todayÕs modern medicine.

Many countries today warn of future shortages of doctors, making clergy a logical resource in the immediate future. The world health report 2006 - working together for health - has brought renewed attention to the global human resources required to produce health. It estimated that 57 countries have an absolute shortage of 4.3 million physicians, nurses and midwives.

The New Medicine of Hope fights disease by fostering health on all fronts. The destruction of germs is but a very small part of it. More important than bodily flora is the cultivation of human happiness by means of hygienic, dietetic, emotional and spiritual tonics. It is profoundly true that man does not live by bread alone. We live by our spirit, the shrine of which is our body. We must know about our body; we must know how it works, and how to care for it in its workings.

We must know ourselves in a new and intimate way - how to eat, how to sleep, how to dress, how to exercise, how to work - above all, how to have peace, pray and play. We must know, too, something of the inner workings of our minds so that we may guard these exquisite instruments against depression, dismay and evil spirits which may be more deadly even than the germs of disease. We must understand the basis of happiness as it affects both the intellect and the emotions, and be instructed in its cultivation.

We must lift our eyes above disease, and the treatment of disease, and see the human life which has been so perfectly equipped by nature and our Lord to defend and preserve itself. For the New Pastoral Medicine is neither more nor less than a return to nature herself as the fountainhead of wisdom, and those rules of life that our Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible so ascribed.