14 and 15 pilgrimage to Lourdes, Christianity's premier healing shrine
. The hard question raised but not answered here, and one with applications far beyond the pope's physical health, is when this kind of determination becomes self-defeating--or, to put it differently, if too much hope can be a dangerous thing.
Shiites are more Catholic: There's a strong emphasis on clerical authority; an approach to the Quran accenting both scripture and tradition; a deep mystical streak; devotion to a holy family (in the case of Shiites, the blood relatives of Muhammad) and to saints (the Twelve Imams); a theology of sacrifice and atonement; as well as holy days, pilgrimages and healing shrines
What more could be said about healing shrines
after the publication of Ruth Harris's monumental Lourdes: Body and Spirit in a Secular Age (New York: Viking, 1999)?
The modern word "hospital" shares the same root as the word hospitality, and is a reminder to us that hospitals began in the work of the great monastic houses that offered hospitality to the thousands of pilgrims who passed through their doors, most on their way to healing shrines
. Hospitality is more than just room and board.
But if his inquiry into Christianity's healing shrines seeks biomedical and psychological causes underlying claimed miracle cures, it is marked by a respect for the faithful--especially those in centuries past for whom embarking on a pilgrimage may truly have had more health benefits than what passed for medicine at that time.
While Scott also discusses early modern and contemporary Catholic healing shrines (Lourdes, of course, being prominent), the bulk of his attention is given to the phenomenon in medieval Europe, where chronic malnutrition depressed the immune system and poor sanitation encouraged the spread of disease, and amid all this, illness was viewed as God's punishment for sin.