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Doctor of Monastic Medicine (DMM)

Originally, Monastic Medicine was practised by the The Therapeutae (male, pl.) and Therapeutrides (female, pl.), according to the account in De Vita Contemplativa by the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BCE - 50 AD), known as the physicians of souls or servants of God, who were desert, religious communities.  They "professed an art of healing superior to that practiced in the cities" Philo notes. For centuries, scholars have known of the connection between the Therapeutae monasteries of Alexandria and the subsequent Christian monasteries in Egypt and ancient Palestine. Their name was derived from Greek, therapeutikos, from therapeutes, one who administers, from therapeuein, inclined to serve, administer treatment.  Therapeutic as a "the branch of medicine concerned with treatment of disease," was not used until 1541.

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

Monastic Medicine was the principle practice of the Knights Hospitaller, today the only surviving medical school on record rests with the Knights of Hope (Hospitaller Order of Physicians & Ecclesiae). Most all ‘doctors of medicine,’ today, are unaware of the fact that the medical implication of these duties has been founded by at least three traditions:

• the Hippocratic tradition of competent medical craftsmanship,

• the Samaritan tradition of helping one's neighbor in all circumstances, and

• the Knights' Hospitaller traditions of St. John & St. Lazaraus of noble service.

More recently, monastic medicine was the foundation of naturopathy beginning with:

John Wesley, founder of the methodist church who advocated veganism, prudent life style, and electrotherapy.

• Father Sebastian Kneipp, who advocated hydrotherapy (water cure) and herbalism.

• Rev. Sylvester Graham, who advocated veganism, hygiene, and intestinal cleansing.

Dr. Paul Wendel, who advocated naturopaths to be servants of God, nature, and man; and to understand that the beginning of Naturopathy must be traced back to the Bible to ascertain what God planned for us, when he created us from dust out of the earth.

Johann Künzle, a Swiss herbalist who sought ways of maintaining health naturally so that modern medical interventions, such as surgery and drugs, would not be needed.

Albert Schweitzer who considered his work as a medical missionary in Africa to be his response to Jesus' call to become "fishers of men". He was a Chevalier of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem.



Monastic Medicine is the traditional, indigenous healing system of Western civilization. It was first codified and systematized by the physician Hippocrates in the 4th century B.C.E. and subsequently developed and expanded by other physicians, most notably Galen, Dioscorides and Avicenna. It was the original source and inspiration for many other natural, holistic and alternative medical systems that developed in Europe and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries, which included hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathy and hygieotherapy. The exemplary life and teachings of its founder, Hippocrates and many others have provided a shining torch of inspiration to natural healers down through the ages.


SMOKH is the last active, Medical Order carrying on the work of monastic medicine, 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, 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 Hospitallers 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.


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