Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Today, September 26, is the optional memorial of Sts. Cosmas and Damian.

Nothing is known of the lives of Saints Cosmas and Damian except that they suffered martyrdom in Syria during the persecution of Diocletian in the third century. A church erected on the site of their burial place was enlarged by the emperor Justinian. Devotion to the two saints spread rapidly in both East and West. A famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Their names were placed in the canon of the Mass, probably in the sixth century.

Legend says that they were twin brothers born in Arabia, who became skilled doctors. Known as the "moneyless" and the "silverless", they never accepted money for their services, but offered them in the spirit of charity. When the persecution under Diocletian broke out, their very prominence rendered them marked objects of persecution. Being apprehended by order of Lysias, governor of Cilicia, they were arrested, tortured, and beheaded in the year 283.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian are patron saints of medicine, doctors and pharmacists. In fine art they are usually depicted in lined robes, hoods or cylindrical physicians’ hats, carrying surgeons’ bags and instruments. They are represented by a box of ointment and medical emblems.

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