Perspectives

Innocents

Authors: Joseph Werthammer, MD

Abstract

While in Florence, Italy last spring, I visited the recently renovated Ospedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents). Built in the 15th century, it served as Europe’s first foundling hospital. Funded by the wealthy Guild of Silk Merchants, it served Gettatelli (little throwaways), who had previously been abandoned by the roadside or on doorsteps, the prey of animals and ill-intentioned individuals eager to sell them to brothels or into slavery.1 The first infant was admitted in 1445 and the hospital continued to shelter thousands of babies until 1875. Children were put up for adoption at age 6 years. Those not adopted could live at the foundling hospital until age 18.2

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References

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