Sts. Cosmas & Damian

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Sts. Cosmas & Damian

Feast day August 21

Sts. Cosmas & Damian were twin brothers who lived during the 3rd century and are venerated as saints in both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. They were reputed to be skilled physicians and were known for their charitable work, providing medical care without charging fees, which earned them the title “Anargyroi” (meaning “the silverless” or “the unmercenary” in Greek).

Historical Background

  • Early Life and Profession: Cosmas and Damian were born in Arabia and practiced medicine in the Roman province of Syria (modern-day Turkey). According to tradition, they were well-educated and proficient in the healing arts.
  • Christian Faith and Martyrdom: They were devout Christians, which led to their persecution during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, known for his severe persecutions of Christians. They were arrested, tortured, and ultimately martyred around the year 303 AD.

Legacy and Veneration

  • Miraculous Healing: Numerous legends attribute miraculous healings to Cosmas and Damian, both during their lives and posthumously. One of the most famous stories involves them performing a miraculous transplantation of a leg from a deceased Ethiopian to a white patient.
  • Feast Day: Their feast day is celebrated on September 26 in the Western Church and on November 1 in the Eastern Church.
  • Patronage: Cosmas and Damian are patron saints of physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, and barbers. They are also invoked for protection against plague and other diseases.
  • Relics and Churches: The Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Rome houses their relics and is one of the primary sites of their veneration. Numerous other churches and medical institutions worldwide are dedicated to them.

Artistic Depictions

  • Iconography: They are often depicted in medieval and Renaissance art as standing together, dressed in the attire of physicians or holding medical instruments. Sometimes, they are shown with the palm of martyrdom, indicating their status as martyrs.


  • Medical Ethics: Their practice of offering medical services without charge has inspired various Christian medical missions and charitable organizations.

Sts. Cosmas and Damian’s story is a powerful testament to the intersection of faith, charity, and professional excellence in the field of medicine. Their legacy continues to inspire medical professionals and faithful alike.

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