Swiss Hospitals Still Use a Medieval Prayer Called ‘The Secret’ to Prevent Patients Bleeding

A new study recently revealed that some Swiss hospitals still rely on a medieval prayer known as ‘The Secret’ to protect patients from excessive bleeding after surgeries.

We live in a time when medical professionals have access to a variety of scientifically-proven tools to prevent excessive bleeding in patients, but according to data presented in a recent study, several hospitals in Switzerland still rely on a “healing formula” dating back to the Middle Ages to keep people from bleeding to death. Known as The Secret, this “blood charm is widely practiced in the French-speaking part of Switzerland,” and reportedly works by mobilizing “superior forces to help cure the patient”. The Secret was recently the subject of a study designed to test the efficacy of the ritual.

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“‘The Secret’ is part of a magical conception of medicine,” the study authors wrote. “It is a remnant of the medical practices of the Middle Ages, when medicine was reduced to its simplest expression and was practiced by monk-practitioners, or sorcerers, based on one of the miracles reported in the synoptic gospels as ‘Jesus healing the bleeding woman’.”

Despite its rudimentary nature and unproven results, a whopping  76 percent of participants in the study believed that The Secret would protect them from excessive bleeding and actually requested that their doctors perform the ritual before surgery.

For this study, researchers compared the bleeding outcomes of 200 patients undergoing invasive coronary procedures in Switzerland. Half of the patients were administered modern standard medical care, while the other half were administered standard care plus The Secret. Results were measured using the Bleeding Academic Research Consortium (BARC) scale.

Photo: Patrick Fore/Unsplash

Unsurprisingly, data showed that The Secret didn’t make the slightest difference in terms of bleeding. Among those who received the medieval prayer, 72 percent experienced no bleeding, 16 percent had a BARC score of one, and 12 percent had a BARC score of two.

Among the patients who only received standard medical care, 73 percent experienced no bleeding, 14 percent had a BARC rating of one, and 13 percent had a BARC score of two. Basically, the two groups had incredibly similar results.

“Most participants believed that ‘The Secret’ would be beneficial but there was no effect on bleeding,” the study authors wrote, adding that the prayer was “of no relevance in cardiology”. That said, they acknowledged that the old prayer might “limit the anxiety of superstitious believers, allow some neuropsychological conditioning, and act as a placebo”.


The Secret has been recognized as an ‘intangible heritage’ artifact by UNESCO. And even though it won’t stop your bleeding, people will most likely still request it in hospitals, just because of superstition. What makes it different than similar rituals in other parts of the world is the fact that in French-speaking Switzerland it is accepted by the medical establishment.

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