The town of
Saint-Lizier in the Pyrenees dates from the 5th Century and has a rich variety of historical monuments of many periods. It is on the pilgrim route to Compostela and its cathedral is dedicated to St James.
As well as the straight shelves on all four walls, there are four matching corner cupboards, with glass panelled fronts. All the pots and bowls on the shelves were made specially at a pottery near
. Every pot has the name of the remedy it contains painted on before the pots were fired, so there was no possibility of mistakes with the contents. Toulouse
A little more grisly, in one of the corner cupboards there is the set of surgical tools, including knives and saws. There are also two large, marble topped tables for preparing medicines or for operating on sick people. Close by the tables are two enormous marble mortars and pestles for preparing and mixing medicines.
The Vinegar of the Four Thieves
From records kept in the hospital, it has been possible to reconstitute the 'Vinegar of the Four Thieves'. This remedy protected against the plague. During one terrible outbreak of plague in
in 1630, four thieves were caught stealing from the dead victims. These four did not become ill with plague, and the doctors discovered that the men had concocted a lotion that they spread on themselves, [hands, face, armpits and nether regions] which prevented the fleas from jumping on them. In exchange for the recipe, they escaped execution. The remedy is based on vinegar and many herbs, plus camphor. Toulouse
For more information on Saint-Lizier, see www.st-lizier.fr