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The Catholic Consecration of an Islamic House: The St John de Matha Trinitarian Hospital in Tunis

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the history of the foundation and construction, from 1720-23, of the St John de Matha Hospital in Tunis, which was established by the Trinitarians, one order founded to ransom Christians held captive by Muslims, under the protection of Philip V of Spain (1700- 46), and with a license from the bey Husayn b. ʿAli (1705-35), for the purpose of caring for the sick and ransoming captives. The hospital's location, design, and construction would give rise to lengthy negotiations over the course of two years between the beylical court, the Trinitarian Province of Castile, and the Holy See, and serve to illustrate the ideological and material complexity of this Christian center in an Islamic land. The chapter rescues from oblivion what was one of the most important buildings in Tunis's European quarter, which was the headquarters of the most important Christian religious foundation in eighteenth-century Tunisia.

Keywords: Christian religious foundation; Holy See; Husayn b. ʿAli; Muslims; Philip V of Spain; St John de Matha Hospital; Trinitarians; Tunis



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