A former hospital order of men and women under the rule of St. augustine. Its presence in England is attested by matthew paris in 1257, but his account is vague and probably confused. The order's only well-known foundation was the hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem in London, established in 1247; St. Mary's housed mental patients well before the Dissolution under henry viii. In 1547 it became a royal establishment for the care of lunatics, and its unenviable reputation gave the word "bedlam" to the language. A few other hospitals and churches are known (there was one in Scotland, one in Pavia, Italy, and one in Clamécy, in the Diocese of Auxerre). All were under the direction of the bishop of Bethlehem, whose see was transferred to Clamécy in the 14th century, where he built on a site previously given (like the site of the London hospital) to the bishop and chapter of Bethlehem; the Clamécy house survived to the French Revolution. The habits worn by the brothers and sisters attached to the order's hospitals featured a red star, and this design has led to unfortunate confusion with a quite distinct, but equally obscure, Bohemian hospital order, the Cruciferi cum stella, established in Prague in the 13th century.
See Also: hospitals, history of.
Bibliography: Gallia Christiana, v. 1–13 (Paris 1715–85), v. 14–16 (Paris 1856–65) 12:686–699. The Register of John Le Romeyn, Lord Archbishop of York, part 1 (Publications of the Surtees Society, 123; Durham 1913) xviii, 1–2. d. e. easson, Medieval Religious Houses: Scotland (London 1957). For several other groups, see m. t. disdier, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912–) 8:1253–54.
[r. w. emery]