Johannes Giil (1854-1874)

The samples where Gerhard Armauer Hansen observed the leprosy bacteria for the very first time on the evening of February 28, 1873, came from a 19-year-old boy from Sogn, patient number 755 at Pleiestiftelsen for Spedalske No. 1 in Bergen.

Johannes Jonassen Giil from Hyllestad was 12 years old when he was admitted to Pleiestiftelsen on August 27, 1866. According to the patient record, the disease had started half a year earlier. Neither his parents, Farmer Jonas Hermansen Giil and Wife Severine Johannesdatter, nor anyone else in the family were said to be sick.

Like other young individuals admitted, he received some education in the institution, and on December 11, 1870, he was confirmed along with 11 others between the ages of 15 and 19. He was 16 years old at the time, and in the church record, it is noted as “Almost B-level knowledge of Christianity and diligence.”

There is otherwise relatively limited information about Johannes Giil and the time he spent at Pleiestiftelsen. He died on January 31, 1874, at the age of 20, less than a year after the samples taken from nodules on the sides of his nose were subjected to examination, becoming the starting point for a groundbreaking discovery that made Hansen famous and put Norway on the world map.