Image: A verger’s dream: Saints Cosmas and Damian performing a miraculous cure by transplantation of a leg. Oil painting attributed to the Master of Los Balbases, ca. 1495.
Saints Cosmas and Damian
Another Saints of the Day for September 26
Saints Cosmas and Damian’s Story
Little is known of the lives of these two saints except that they suffered martyrdom in Syria during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. Being prominent practitioners of medicine, it would have been hard for them to have remained unnoticed.
A church erected on the site of their burial was enlarged by the emperor Justinian. Devotion to the two saints spread rapidly in both East and West, and a famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Their names were placed in the Roman Canon probably in the sixth century.
Legend says that they were twin brothers born in Arabia who were both skilled doctors. They were among those who are venerated in the East as the “moneyless ones” because, purportedly, they did not charge a fee for their services.
Nine centuries later, Francis of Assisi rebuilt the dilapidated San Damiano chapel outside Assisi.
For a long time, it seems, we have been very conscious of Jesus’ miracles as proofs of his divinity. What we sometimes overlook is Jesus’ consuming interest in simply healing people’s sickness, whatever other meaning his actions had. The power that “went out from him” was indeed a sign that God was definitively breaking into human history in final fulfillment of his promises; but the love of God was also concrete in a very human heart that was concerned about the suffering of his brothers and sisters. It is a reminder to Christians that salvation is for the whole person, the unique body-spirit unity.
Saints Cosmas and Damian are the Patron Saints of: