In the Middle Ages, this would have been local healers, but very often priests, who would have been called to visit people near death in order to hear their confessions, and administer their last rites. During The Black Death of 1347 (and the years following), priests were faced with the task of stepping into sickrooms, knowing that they faced an unseen enemy that very likely would kill them shortly. That thousands of priests took those steps anyway, risking their lives to give hope and comfort to those in pain and fear is something I can’t help but admire all these centuries later.

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