Mechelen Hospital Archive

Mechelen Hospital Archive

Native

At the very end of the 12th century, the prince-bishop of Malines (Mechelen in today’s Belgium) funded a hospital to be run by a group of hospital sisters; these women in the coming centuries cared for the ill and ailing so well that several other dependent hospitals were funded out of this mother house in Malines. Their institution was protected by the pope, Honorius III (who also formally extended his protection to the Dominican, Franciscan and Carmelite orders), and a few years later by the local lord, Godefroid de Fontaines, bishop of Cambrai; the next pope, Innocent IV also issued a bull to the sisters (in 1234), as did pope Nicholas IV (in 1288), and pope Clement V (in 1310, from his residence in Avignon). To these five founding documents, the collection adds two more of a slightly later date. The combination of the crucial materials, all present and in outstandingly good condition, allows one to form a view of the opening moments of a women’s civic and religious organization, in ways that are hardly possible in the United States.