Two millennia ago, Mary and Joseph advanced the Kingdom as they made their arduous journey to Bethlehem in response to an imperial edict mandating a census. There, in that tiny hamlet, finding no available accommodations, they were obliged to seek shelter in a makeshift stable where Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world. Twenty centuries later that small spot on the globe—”too small to be counted among the clans of Judah” (Micah)—continues to witness God’s unfolding plan.Founded as a hospital and orphanage by the French community of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in 1885, the Holy Family Hospital is located in Bethlehem only 500 yards from the traditional birthplace of Jesus. A century later, because of the Arab-Israeli conflict that has roiled the West Bank, the hospital was obliged to cease its operation. However, the Daughters of Charity entrusted the renovation and management of the hospital to the Sovereign Order of Malta (the Knights of Malta) who, consistent with their tradition of devotion to the sick and the poor, reopened the center in 1990.
Today, the Holy Family Hospital is the largest maternity hospital in the Palestinian run areas of the Holy Land. It provides the only neonatal intensive care unit and the only obstetrical/gynecological facility in the region and can handle the complicated and high risk medical conditions of women living in extreme poverty. Its doors are open to everyone regardless of national origin, religion or ability to pay. Because of the persistent social, political, and economic conditions of the West Bank, it operates under extremely challenging circumstances. Since 1990 the hospital has delivered over 40,000 mothers and now averages 3,200 deliveries per year.
In recent years, the hospital has introduced a mobile outreach clinic which provides medical care each year to 2,000 women living in the desert and often residing in shacks without sanitation, clean water or electricity.
Modern, efficient and up-to-date, the Holy Family Hospital is also the largest maternity hospital available to non-Israelis, a point made even more relevant by the fact that 80 percent of the surrounding population is Muslim—as are, of course, the great majority of the hospital’s patients.
It goes without saying that the hospital relies on the financial support of donors around the world, who contribute to the Holy Family Hospital Foundation (www.hfhfoundation.org)—following the example of Mary and Joseph by participating in the advance of the Kingdom.