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In the Middle Ages leprosy spread in every country of Europe and continued to spread until strenuous efforts were made to bring the diseased parts out of contact with the healthy community. In this no charitable regard was had to the victims of the scourge; the weal of the sane majority alone was considered. It is from this point of view that it behooves us also to judge the conduct of the church. The Order of Lazarus was founded and lazarettoes built in great numbers. The work and purpose of the order were to segregate and govern the afflicted and dangerous part of humanity. The thing was necessary, was an unavoidable consequence of the resolve of healthy mankind to remain so, and it was not so much charity as one might believe. The community wanted this work to be done, and who could do it but the church?
ASHMEAD AS. LEPROSY OVERCOME BY ISOLATION IN THE MIDDLE AGES.. JAMA. 1897;XXIX(15):738. doi:10.1001/jama.1897.02440410026002k