VARTAN OF NAZARETH: Missionary and Medical Pioneer in the Nineteenth Centrury Middle East
by Malcolm Billings
This little-known story of a medical pioneer and missionary who founded a hospital in Nazareth 150 years ago. This book traces the remarkable life of Pacradooni Kaloost Vartan, the son of a poor Armenian tailor in Constantinople. Born in 1835, the young Vartan attended the first American missionary school in the imperial city. He left school to join the British Army as an interpreter in the Crimea and, having witnessed the rigors of battlefield medicine, he was drawn to a career as a surgeon and physician. The book recounts the story of his time in Edinburgh as a missionary medical student, his marriage to Mary Anne, a daughter of the Manse and the young couple's departure for Palestine.
The book is rich in descriptions of 19th century Nazareth. It features contemporary photographs taken by royal engineers for the Palestine Exploration Fund. The book also tells of Vartan's legacy after his death in 1908 and follows the development of the hospital through turbulent times. The hospital survived. John Vartan, the founder's great grand-son, is actively involved.