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Title: The serpent of Aesculapius, the confraternity of Ss. Cosmas and Damian and the Bishop of Malta
Authors: Cassar, Paul
Keywords: Church controversies -- Malta -- 19th century
Church -- Authority -- Malta -- 19th century
Church and social problems -- Malta
Issue Date: 1974
Publisher: The St. Luke`s Hospital Gazette
Citation: Cassar, P. (1974). The serpent of Aesculapius, the confraternity of Ss. Cosmas and Damian and the Bishop of Malta. The St. Luke`s Hospital Gazette, 9(2), 156-166.
Abstract: Towards the end of 1859 we come across a record of a few letters exchanged between the confraternity and the Minor Conventuals. The topic which gave rise to this correspondence was the altar of the confraternity in St. Francis Church, Valletta. Sometime in the first half of the nineteenth century the altar was rebuilt in the form of "a sepulchral urn flanked by two large trunks or rods of Aesculapius entwined by serpents and serving as columns to support the altar slab". These trunks and serpents were meant to symbolise the medical and allied professions but in the view of the Archbishop Bishop Mgr. Publio Maria Sant they were pagan symbols so that one could not say whether "the altar was Christian or pagan or a mixture of both. This medico-ecclesiastical controversy shows how the religious factor has shaped the pattern of the social, political, artistic and intellectual life of Malta in the past.
Appears in Collections:TSLHG, Volume 9, Issue 2
TSLHG, Volume 9, Issue 2

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