Spirituality and health in pandemic times: lessons from the ancient wisdom

Alex Villas Boas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The goal of this paper is to analyze how the historical episode of the so-called Plague of Athens between the years 430 and 426 BC seems to have been the first phenomenon classified as an epidemic by Hippocrates, and the historian Thucydides described its cultural, social, political and religious consequences. However, such a crisis generated the need for a new culture, and consequently a new theological mentality, as a cultural driver that made it possible to transform the Asclepiad Sanctuary of Kos into the first hospital in the West to integrate spirituality and science as ways to promote the healing of culture in order to achieve the ideal of health. The adopted method was a semantic analysis of the classic texts that help contextualize the Hippocratic view of the epidemic, spirituality, and health, and how these questions were received by Christianity at the time. The reception of this experience by Christianity, despite suffering some tension, also expands this Greek ideal and constitutes a true heritage of ancient wisdom that can be revisited in the time of the new pandemic, COVID-19. The perspective assumed here is interdisciplinary, putting in dialogue Theology and Health Sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number583
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Ancient epidemics
  • COVID-19
  • Spirituality and health
  • Theology of health


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