Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

French surgeon, born at Bourg-Hersent, near Laval, department of Maine, 1517; died 20 December, 1590. He was apprenticed to a barber at an early age, became barber-surgeon at the Hôtel-Dieu, Paris, surgeon in the army of Francis I (1536-38), re-enlisted on the reopening of hostilities (1542-44), and in 1545 began the study of anatomy at Paris, under François-Jacques Dubois (Sylvius). He was appointed field-surgeon by Marshal Rohan, and (1552) became surgeon to King Henry II, in 1554 member of the Collège de St-Cosme, exempt from taxation, and in 1563, after the siege of Rouen, first surgeon and chamberlain to King Charles IX. A Catholic throughout his life, Tal has given documentary refutation to the legend that Paré was a Huguenot and was spared during the Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day (1572) by direct command of the king. On account of his humanitarian activity he was held in special regard among soldiers. His motto, as inscribed above his chair in the Collège de St-Cosme, read: "Je le pansay et Dieu le guarist" ("I treated him, but God healed him"). A monument was erected to him at Laval.

Paré's pioneer work was chiefly in the department of military surgery. His importance in the development of modern surgery may be compared with that of his contemporary, Andreas Vesalius, in the development of modern anatomy. The chief services rendered by Paré are a reform in the treatment of gunshot wounds, and the revival of the practice of ligating arteries after amputation. From the time of Giovanni Vigo (c. 1460-1520), surgeon-in-ordinary to Pope Julius II , gunshot wounds were classified as contused, burned, and poisoned, and the last-named, on the supposition that all gunshot wounds were poisoned by powder, were cauterized with red-hot iron or hot oil. On one occasion, after a battle, Paré, not having sufficient oil, applied ointment and bandaged the wounds, and observed that the healing process proceeded more favourably under this treatment. His observations, published in 1545, gave the impetus to a rational reform of the whole system of dealing with wounds, and did away with the theory of poisoned gunshot wounds, despite the fact that the Italians, Alfonso Ferri (1552) and Giovanni Francesco Rota (1555), obstinately defended the old view. Vascular ligation, which had been practised by the Alexandrians, was revived by Paré at amputations in the form of ligating the artery, though thereby the nerves were bruised. This discovery, which he published in 1552, he speaks of as an inspiration which came to him through Divine grace. In cases of strangulated hernia of the groin he performed the operation known as herniotomy, while heretofore physicians feared to operate in such cases, leaving the patients to die miserably. In obstetrics we owe to him the revival of foot-presentation, but he was always averse to the Cæsarean operation ( sectio cæsarea ). In all departments of surgery we find Paré an independent observer and thinker; but his advanced notions encountered much opposition on the part of the Paris faculty of medicine. Thus at the time of his enrolment in the faculty of the Collège de St-Cosme, in 1554, the faculty made his ignorance of Latin a ground of objection against him. Nor could it ever forgive him for rendering ludicrous supposed panaceas, the so-called arcana (mumia, ceratum humanum, unicornu) .


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2014 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter