Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

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

Cosmas and Damian were twin bothers born in Syria in the third century. They were also doctors, and they became known as “the holy moneyless ones” because they cared for the sick free of charge. The strange practice of accepting no money for medical care was their way of embodying God’s providential love and care for his people. And folks took notice.
The twin brothers were arrested on September 27, during the persecution of Christians by Diocletian in 303. Soon after, the faithful brothers defied death by water, fire and crucifixion before they were finally beheaded in Cilicia, along with their three brothers. They were buried in Cyrrhus, Syria.              

Veneration to Cosmas and Damian began immediately. The faithful asked for their intercession, especially in matters of physical illness. St. Gregory of Tours spoke about the twin brothers in this way: “These two physicians cured as many people by their prayers as they did by their medical knowledge, and now in heaven they still care for the sick miraculously.”            

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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