Saints Cosmas and Damian, Physicians and Martyrs
Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian Dressing a Chest Wound by Antoine de Favray
Photo Credit: Welcome Library
September 26 is the optional memorial of Saints 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 money-less 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 pharmacists, physicians, and surgeons. 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.
Prayer to Saints Cosmas and Damian, Physicians and Martyrs
O Physicians of souls, Saints Cosmas and Damian, stand before the Lord of All and ask Him to heal me and all those dear to me of any spiritual ills we may endure.
Drive away from us all sin and sadness of mind, all darkness and despair. Make us then willing and loving servants of Christ, following your holy example of detachment from the things of this world and care for the needs of our neighbors.
On the glorious day of the Universal Resurrection may we shine with you in the full health of our nature restored by the mercies of Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever.