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In the early Middle Ages, a xenodochium or xenodochion (from Ancient Greek ξενοδοχεῖον, xenodokheîon or xenodocheion; place for strangers, inn, guesthouse) was either a hostel or hospital, usually specifically for foreigners or pilgrims, although the term could refer to charitable institutions in general. The xenodochium was a church institution that first appeared in the Byzantine world.[1] The xenodochium was a more common institution than any of its more-specific counterparts, such as the gerocomium (from γεροντοκομεῖον, gerontokomeîon; place for the old), nosocomium (from νοσοκομεῖον, nosokomeîon; place for the sick) or orphanotrophium (for orphans). A hospital for victims of plague was called a xenodochium pestiferorum (guesthouse of the plague-carriers).


  1. ^ Guenter B. Risse, Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals (Oxford University Press, 1999), 82.

Further reading

  • Dey, Hendrik W. (2008). "Diaconiae, Xenodochia, Hospitalia and Monasteries: 'Social Security' and the Meaning of Monasticism in Early Medieval Rome". Early Medieval Europe. 16 (4): 398–422. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0254.2008.00236.x. S2CID 162420483.
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