I recently spent some time researching medieval medical care for a project that I had started.
The things that they believed to be helpful would be easily disproven today. Some of the things they did for illness included bloodletting; draining blood from a specific part of the body to remove illness. We now know that there are special cells in the body that help fight off infection and sickness, so it seems to me that we ought to keep that blood in our bodies.
For a toothache, they would “take a candle and burn it close to the tooth so that the worms that were gnawing the tooth would fall out into a cup of water held by the mouth. The cause of the Black Death according to Guy de Chauliac, a French doctor, was that three great planets, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, were all in close position. This took place in 1345. He believed such a coming together of planets was always a sign of wonderful, terrible or violent things to come.” 1
The surgeons of those days were typically unskilled butchers or barbers. The red and white pole you see outside of a barber’s store was a symbol used in medieval times with the red representing blood and the white representing bandages used after the operation. I am certainly grateful for the advancement of science regarding medical care.
We live in a day that we can trust that our bodies can be assisted in healing. When we have faith that Heavenly Father will help us be healed, we need to have faith in what is true. This is an essential element of faith. Alma 32:21 states “And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” I could easily make myself believe that I could move an object across the room just by pointing my finger, but the elements of science do not support my faith in that ability no matter how strongly I believe it.
Since the restoration of the gospel and the priesthood to the world in the 1800’s, mankind has made huge advances in every field. The Prophet Joseph Smith once said, “One great privilege of the priesthood is to obtain revelations of the mind and will of God.” 2
Speed up the Work
We have seen how He has led us in miraculous ways to speed up the work of building the kingdom. Along with that comes discoveries about the world we live in and beyond. We can take pictures of the inside of a body, we can leave the earth and walk on the moon, we can send information across the world in an instant and travel hundreds of feet in the air at great speeds. We can sit at the feet of the prophets and apostles from the comfort of our own homes and be edified as we feel the Holy Spirit communicate to us. Without those who had a propensity to study the sciences, we might still be living in the same conditions as the dark ages.
Heavenly Father is not a magician. He gave His priesthood power to the Savior to employ for the benefit of mankind and when the Savior walked the earth, He used the elements of science to bring to pass miracles. Perhaps no one knows how to cure eyes that were born blind yet, but in His time, the Savior knew what needed to happen to the elements in the body to make it possible, and under the direction of the priesthood power, those elements obeyed.
Heavenly Father knows all things. When He promises that we will be healed, it is because He knows what the elements need to do to make healing possible. As advancements in science continue, we will have even more ways to be grateful for His wisdom in all things as He leads us through the challenges of mortality.
- History of the Church, 2nd Edition, p 477, Salt Lake City; Deseret Book Co, 1967