Like many, I hear stories of those on the front lines of this new pandemic called the Coronavirus. Some work in hospitals, labs, and response teams called to deal with the virus in ways we aren’t even aware of – (think morticians or cleanup crews).
Others keep our supply lines open for food and transportation. Or learn to use new skills so they can teach school children confined to home.
The Coronavirus isn’t the first pandemic to sweep across our world. The Black Death is usually referenced as the greatest of these.
Wikipedia describes this Great Plague of 1347 – 1351 as:
The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence, Great Bubonic Plague, the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Great Mortality or the Black Plague, was the most devastating pandemic recorded in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351.
Like us, people were asked to practice social distancing and quarantine.
Others served on the front lines. Many of these were Christians. Here are some of their stories … true tales of God’s crazy love:
Doctors of the Black Death
Guy de Chauliac was born in France to a peasant family and received his early education from village clergymen. He would eventually become a doctor and be known as the father of surgery.
In 1348, the Black Death struck his city of Avignon, killing 400 people a day. In three months, 36,000 were dead in the city of 50,000.
Think of how eerie it would be to wake up to find the houses on your street standing empty of all life—not only are your neighbors dead, but there are no animal noises either, for, like their owners, dogs, cats, hens, cattle, asses, and sheep also perished.
That’s crazy love…
Records show that many doctors would abandon their patients when the plague struck their city. Not Guy de Chauliac. Guy stood his ground.
But staying and treating people who suffered from the pestilence caused Guy to contract the disease. Thankfully he recovered and continued the self-sacrificing labor of caring for the sick.
Nurses of the Black Death
And it wasn’t just doctors that stood their ground. A French Monk named John mentioned that the main hospital in Paris was daily seeing 500 people die from the plague.
He wrote that among those caring for the sick were nurses.
The saintly sisters of the Hotel-Dieu (Hotel of God), not fearing death, worked sweetly and with great humility, setting aside considerations of earthly dignity. A great number of the sisters were called to a new life by death.
Bernardo Tolomei, an Italian monk, was the founder of the Benedictine Congregation of Santa Maria di Monte Oliveto. He was mostly blind but was committed to doing what he could for the plague sufferers.
He, along with 82 of his fellow monks, left the safety of their monastery to tend to plague victims in Siena, Italy. They paid with their lives. All died in 1348.
In 1374 the plague returned to Siena. Caterina di Giacomo di Benincasa gave herself to relieve the sufferers. Caffarini, a clergyman who knew Catherine writes,
Never did she appear more admirable than at this time. She was always with the plague-stricken; she prepared them for death and buried them with her own hands. I myself witnessed the joy with which she nursed them and the wonderful efficacy of her words, which brought about many conversions.
That’s crazy love on maximum hyperdrive.
That’s God’s kind of love. It’s a weapon. Designed to cast out fear.
May it be said of us that we carried THAT love into this pandemic.
P.S. Interested in more crazy love? Read Serving Slaves: The Legacy of Peter Claver.