The Healing Imperative: The Early Church and the Invention of Medicine as We Know It


“Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you; heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” —Luke 10:8-9

When Jesus sent seventy disciples on ahead of him, part of their mission was to heal the sick. In fact, they were supposed to heal the sick before they preached the Gospel. Best-selling author Mike Aquilina calls this command the healing imperative. And it’s an imperative that ushered in the world of modern medicine. The Healing Imperative: The Early Church and the Invention of Medicine as We Know It reconstructs the fascinating history of a uniquely Christian institution: the hospital. Underlining how the virtues of charity and hospitality motivated the first generations of Christians, along with Jesus’ explicit command to heal the sick, Aquilina shows just how revolutionary the actions of Christian doctors and nurses were and how they transformed society in ways that still reverberate today.

The radical developments in health care spearheaded by Christians influenced culture, society, and civilization. As The Healing Imperative proves, now more than ever, the compassion of Christians is needed to guide the world of medicine. Jesus’ command still resonates, and Aquilina urges us to respond.

“Mike Aquilina tells the fascinating story of the healing hand of disciples outstretched to so many in need.  This book opens a window onto a rich and not often recognized aspect of the life of the Church. It is a must read.”

– Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington, D.C. and author of To the Martyrs


“A fascinating and original book—we always should have known this!”

– Rodney Stark
Leading authority on the sociology of religion and author of nearly forty books, including Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History


“Fast-moving, informative, and grounded in historical scholarship, this book is recommended reading for medical care providers and recipients alike, shedding important and often moving light on the Christian roots of a key component of contemporary life in which the Church continues to be an important player.”

– Russell Shaw
Author of Catholics in America

“A fascinating, inspiring, and eye-opening history of the Christian origins of modern medicine, excellently written, as always, by one of today’s premier authors.”

– Marcus Grodi
President and Founder, The Coming Home Network