The Hospital of Saint Christopher

  • A. J. R. Russell-Wood


The only general hospital in Bahia during the entire colonial period was administered by the Misericórdia. This hospital had been known as the Hospital of Our Lady of Candles or the Hospital of the City of the Saviour in the sixteenth century. From the late seventeenth century it was always called the Hospital of St Christopher. This single hospital provided for an urban population which had grown from 1,000 settlers in 1549 to some 130,000 residents in 1755. Although the first governor, Tomé de Sousa, had ordered the construction of the hospital in 1549, his successors failed to follow his example in providing hospital services for the city. Governors and viceroys paid scant attention to the peculiar medical problems of a community, the majority of whose members had emigrated to Brazil. The city council was equally remiss. No part of the income derived by the municipality from heavy taxation was ear-marked for medical aid for the community. The councillors failed to enforce even the most rudimentary measures for public hygiene. These two factors — a society composed of three races from three continents and a disregard for urban sanitation — contributed to the high incidence of disease within the City of the Saviour.


Eighteenth Century Seventeenth Century Yellow Fever City Council Military Hospital 
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  1. 1.
    Robert Dundas, M.D., Sketches of Brazil, including new views on tropical and European fever (London, 1852), pp. 204–9. Robert Dundas was medical superintendent of the British hospital in Bahia for twenty-three years.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Maria Graham, Journal of a voyage to Brazil and residence there during part of the years 1821, 1822, 1823 (London, 1824), p. 133.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Marieta Alves, História da Venerdvel Ordem 3a da Penitência do Seráfico Pe São Francisco da Congregação da Bahia (Bahia, 1948), pp. 328–34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© A. J. R. Russell-Wood 1968

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. R. Russell-Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.St Antony’s CollegeOxfordUK

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