Sunday, April 16, 2017

N for Nicarete: Female Scientists Before Our Time

Saint Nicarete - Mistica, Eremita
Nicarete was born into a wealthy noble family in Nicomedia, Bithynia, Asia Minor  sometime during the 4th Century. Today we would recognize Nicomedia as Izmit, Turkey.  

Other names for Nicarete are Niceras, Nikarete, and Nicaretes, and in the Catholic Church she is simply Saint Nicarete.

Nicarete lived during the early stages of the Christian church. A good number of women who had converted to Christianity became physicians and healers. Nicarete was one of them. Passionate about her newfound faith, Nicarete left home for Constantinople to study theology and minister to the poor.


Once established as a physician and healer, Nicarete used a variety of remedies to cure sickness among the poor. Standard treatments by physicians of the day, the story goes, had been unsuccessful. Nicarete jumped into her new role eyes forward and full throttle, giving all her worldly possessions to the poor in her zeal to help. She was described as “zealous” in her work, “virtuous,” and “well ordered in manner and speech and in behavior.”

A known healing was that of John Chrysostom (c. 349-407) who had suffered from a stomach ailment. Chrysostom was Archbishop of Constantinople and well known for his preaching and public speeches on the misuse of authority by the church and certain political leaders. He was especially popular with the common people for his refusal to cater to the wealthy and their extravagant lifestyles. 


Inspired, Nicarete became a close friend and follower, and later when Archbishop Chrysostom was exiled from Constantinople (404 to 407), Nicarete followed. The Pope protested his banishment to no avail. The Archbishop's support of anti-pagan laws, etc., had apparently gone too far. It’s not clear as to the age of Nicarete when she died during the exile (c. 405) or whether she had continued her medical practice. The Archbishop died a short time later (c. 407).






Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicarete; http://catholicsaints.mobi/calendar/27-december.htm
Woman in Science, by John Augustine Zahm, 2011 [www.gutenberg.org/files/]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom; http://catholicsaints.info/saint-nicarete-of-constantinople/





20 comments:

  1. Another female scientist new to me! Love how dedicated to the poor Nicarete was...

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  2. Fascinating! Was she already trained in medicine when she left home? She sounds like someone from a rich family, or at least middle class - the daughters of the poor didn't usually go into convents, except maybe as workers.

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    1. I did not find information regarding her training. It seems she was motivated by faith in God to leave her home (and wealth) behind. It was a decision of passion.

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  3. The name is a pity, though, alas! It sounds like something you chew on to stop smoking. ;-)

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    1. Yes, I agree! I do like the first part of her name though - Mistica (see picture caption).

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  4. This was quite a women, a christian using her skills to heal.
    Lovely post for "N".
    Yvonne.

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    1. I love this aspect of the story too :)

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  5. Another extraordinary woman. It's interesting that so many came fro the region. Thank you!

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    1. Yes, she was from Turkey, where Christianity spread.

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  6. Hi Sharon - you are really giving us a feast of women scientists along with some fascinating history attached to each ... well worth coming back to read again later on ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/n-is-for-notable-rare-breeds-natives.html

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    1. Thank you. I've enjoyed learning about these ladies!

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  7. Replies
    1. Yes, and without the modern facilities we have today. They treated similar diseases too....some successfully.

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  8. The early Christians faced a lot of hardships and prejudice, and women perhaps bore the brunt of it. Religious persecution on both sides...Glad Nicarete was not among them.

    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse

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    1. Sadly, that persecution continues today in parts of the world.

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  9. I'm thinking how much information in your A to Z posts that can be material for interesting stories...and the amazing twists and turns that can be incorporated into these stories.

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    1. I have thought the same too, Michelle. Mere facts maybe, but they could be the foundation to a great story!

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  10. What is funny is how many women were actually doctors, as we might say, when centuries later, it was mainly a male oriented profession. Another amazing woman.

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    1. That does seem to be the case doesn't it? Societal norms dictated woman's place was strictly in the home. Both men and women felt this way.

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