This paper examines Western nursing practices by focusing on their spiritual aspect. The transformation of the informal and poorly trained nurse into the trained and uniform persona of the modern nurse is the subject of many nursing histories and part of nursing mythology. Using the work of Michel Foucault and Marcel Mauss, the nursing that preceded the 19th century reformers is re-examined and continuities between current and quite ancient practices of nursing are explored. The development of practices or technologies for care of the sick originated with the establishment of hospitals in the 4th century as part of pious Christian practice. Current practices of care and the discourse of holistic nursing are argued to have grown from these traditional Christian technologies of care. Humanist or holistic nursing represents the enshrinement of the Christian ethos--freed of doctrine; the discourse of caring a redrafted Christian discipline of love.