[A window on the past: lay nurses and nun nurses in hospital modernization at the start of the 20th century].Riv Inferm. 1993 Jan-Mar; 12(1):22-8.RI
The presence of nuns in Italian hospitals raised hot debates since the beginning of the century. Though recognised by a large majority as ideal nurses, for the devotion and the amount of time spent working in the hospital, physicians, feminist movements and nursing leagues expressed much criticism against nuns, for several reasons: a. nuns were more liable to the Mother Superior than to the hospital administration, therefore could not be neither controlled nor sanctioned; b. misplaced "religious" behaviors and beliefs (i.e. the body as an occasion of sin; suffering means spiritual salvation) which may threaten proper care for patients; c. nuns could not act as educators or role model for nurses because they were mainly involved in organizational and management activities and not in direct patient care; d. among other problems, the way of dressing, with large hats and long sleeves was a source of transport of microorganisms). Lack of properly educated and trained lay nurses, able to substitute nuns, some improvement in nuns' education, strongly promoted by Pope Pio X and the dissolution of nursing leagues put an end to the fight for the secularization of hospitals.