Saints Cosmas and Damian
Saints Cosmas and Damian (also written Kosmas and Damianos) (died ca. 287) were twin brothers, physicians, and early Christian martyrs
Christian martyrs
A Christian martyr is one who is killed for following Christianity, through stoning, crucifixion, burning at the stake or other forms of torture and capital punishment. The word "martyr" comes from the Greek word μάρτυς, mártys, which means "witness."...

 born in Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

, part of today's Turkey. They practiced their profession in the seaport of Ayas, Adana, then in the Roman province of Syria
Syria (Roman province)
Syria was a Roman province, annexed in 64 BC by Pompey, as a consequence of his military presence after pursuing victory in the Third Mithridatic War. It remained under Roman, and subsequently Byzantine, rule for seven centuries, until 637 when it fell to the Islamic conquests.- Principate :The...

. Accepting no payment for their services led to them being named "Ανάργυροι" (Unmercenary); it has been said that, by this, they attracted many to the Christian faith.


During the persecution
Diocletian Persecution
The Diocletianic Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman empire. In 303, Emperor Diocletian and Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding the legal rights of Christians and demanding that they comply with traditional Roman...

 under Diocletian
Diocletian |latinized]] upon his accession to Diocletian . c. 22 December 244  – 3 December 311), was a Roman Emperor from 284 to 305....

, Cosmas and Damian were arrested by order of the Prefect
Prefect is a magisterial title of varying definition....

 of Cilicia
Cilicia (Roman province)
Cilicia was the name of a province of the Roman Empire.- See also :* Cilicia — Roman Cilicia...

, one Lysias who is otherwise unknown, who ordered them under torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 to recant. However, according to legend they stayed true to their faith, enduring being hung on a cross, stoned and shot by arrows and finally suffered execution by beheading. Anthimus, Leontius and Euprepius, their younger brothers, who were inseparable from them throughout life, shared in their martyrdom.

Their most famous miraculous exploit was the grafting of a leg from a recently deceased Ethiopian to replace a patient's ulcered leg, and was the subject of many paintings and illuminations.


As early as the 4th century, churches dedicated to the twin saints were established at Jerusalem, in Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and in Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

. Theodoret
Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus was an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria . He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms...

 records the division of their relics. Their relics, deemed miraculous, were buried in the city of Cyrrus
Cyrrhus, Syria
Cyrrhus, or Kyrros was a city in ancient Syria founded by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals. Other names for the city include Hagioupolis, Nebi Huri نبي حوري, Khoros . Its ruins are located in northern Syria, near the Turkish border. It lies about 70 km northwest of Aleppo...

 in Syria. Churches were built in their honor by Archbishop Proclus
Archbishop Proclus of Constantinople
Saint Proclus was an Archbishop of Constantinople. He is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church.-Biography:...

 and by Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 (527–565), who sumptuously restored the city of Cyrus and dedicated it to the twins, but brought their relics to Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

; there, following his cure, ascribed to the intercession of Cosmas and Damian, Justinian, in gratitude also built and adorned their church at Constantinople, and it became a celebrated place of pilgrimage. At Rome Pope Felix IV (526–530) rededicated the Library of Peace (Bibliotheca Pacis) as a basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 of Santi Cosma e Damiano
Santi Cosma e Damiano
The basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano is a church in Rome, Italy, located in the Roman Forum. It is one of the ancient churches called tituli, of which cardinals are patrons as deacons: the Cardinal Deacon of the Titulus Ss. Cosmae et Damiani is Giovanni Cheli...

 in the Forum of Vespasian
Imperial forums
The Imperial Fora consist of a series of monumental fora , constructed in Rome over a period of one and half centuries, between 46 BC and 113 AD. The forums were the center of the Roman Republic and of the Roman Empire.The Imperial forums, while not part of the Roman Forum, are located relatively...

 in their honour. The church is much rebuilt but still famed for its sixth-century mosaics illustrating the saints.

What are said to be their skulls are venerated in the convent
A convent is either a community of priests, religious brothers, religious sisters, or nuns, or the building used by the community, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church and in the Anglican Communion...

 of the Clares
Order of Poor Ladies
The Poor Clares also known as the Order of Saint Clare, the Order of Poor Ladies, the Poor Clare Sisters, the Clarisse, the Minoresses, the Franciscan Clarist Congregation, and the Second Order of St. Francis, , comprise several orders of nuns in the Catholic Church...

 in Madrid, where they have been since 1581, the gift of Maria, daughter of Emperor Charles V. They had previously been removed from Rome to Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 in the tenth century, and thence to Bamberg
Bamberg is a city in Bavaria, Germany. It is located in Upper Franconia on the river Regnitz, close to its confluence with the river Main. Bamberg is one of the few cities in Germany that was not destroyed by World War II bombings because of a nearby Artillery Factory that prevented planes from...

Other skulls said to be theirs have been discovered at Easter 1334 by Burchard Grelle, Archbishop of Bremen. He "personally 'miraculously' retrieved the relics of the holy physicians Cosmas and Damian, which were allegedly immured and forgotten in the quire of the Bremen Cathedral
Bremen Cathedral
Bremen Cathedral , dedicated to St. Peter, is a church situated in the market square in the center of Bremen, in northern Germany. The cathedral belongs to the Bremian Evangelical Church, a member of the Protestant umbrella organisation named Evangelical Church in Germany...

. In celebration of the retrieval Archbishop and Chapter
Chapter (religion)
Chapter designates certain corporate ecclesiastical bodies in the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Nordic Lutheran churches....

 arranged a feast at Pentecost 1335, when the relics were translated from the wall to a more dignified place." (For the original quotation see the note) Grelle claimed the relics were those Archbishop Adaldag
Adaldag was the seventh archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, from 937 until his death.He was of noble birth, a relation and pupil of Adalward, Bishop of Verden, and became canon of Hildesheim...

 brought from Rome in 965. In about 1400 the cathedral master-builder Johann Hemeling commissioned a shrine for the relics, which has been accomplished until after 1420. The shrine from carved oak wood covered with gilt rolled silver is considered an important mediaeval gold work. In 1649 Bremen's Chapter, meanwhile Lutheran, sold the shrine without the heads to Maximilian I of Bavaria
Maximilian I, Elector of Bavaria
Maximilian I, Duke/Elector of Bavaria , called "the Great", was a Wittelsbach ruler of Bavaria and a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire. His reign was marked by the Thirty Years' War ....

. The Heads remains in Bremen, why in Munich they have had two heads from Bamberg and Emnporer Heinrich. The two heads remained in Bremen and came in the posession of the small catholic comunity. They have been shown last time from 1934 to 1968 in the Church of St. Johann and burried 1994 under the bottom of the crypt. (Wilhelm Tacke: St. Johann in Bremen - erine 600jährige Geschichte - von den Bettelbrüdern bis zu den Pröpsten, Bremen 2006, S. 172ff.) It is now shown in the Jesuit church of St Michael
St. Michael's Church, Munich
St Michael is a Jesuit church in Munich, southern Germany, the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. The style of the building had an enormous influence on Southern German early Baroque architecture.-Architecture:...

 in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

. At least since 1413 another pair of skulls is stored in St Stephens's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, OP...

 in Vienna. Other relics are claimed by the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
Church of San Giorgio Maggiore
thumb|450 px|San Giorgio Maggiore seen across the water in full sun on an evening in JuneSan Giorgio Maggiore is a 16th century Benedictine church on the island of the same name in Venice, northern Italy, designed by Andrea Palladio and built between 1566 and 1610...

 in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...


The martyr twins are invoked in the Canon of the Mass
Canon of the Mass
Canon of the Mass is the name given in the Roman Missal, from the first typical edition of Pope Pius V in 1570 to that of Pope John XXIII in 1962, to the part of the Mass of the Roman Rite that begins after the Sanctus with the words Te igitur...

 in the prayer known as the Communicantes (from the first Latin word of the prayer): "In communion with the whole Church, they venerate above all others the memory of the glorious ever-virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, then of blessed Joseph, husband of the Virgin, your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude: Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Laurence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian and all your Saints: grant through their merits and prayers that in all things we may be defended by the help of your protection." They are also invoked in the Litany of the Saints
Litany of the Saints
The Litany of the Saints is a sacred prayer of the Roman Catholic Church, the Western Rites of the Orthodox Church, and some Anglican Churches. It is a prayer of invocation to the Triune God, and prayers for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and all the martyrs and saints...


Their feast day in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints
Roman Catholic calendar of saints
The General Roman Calendar indicates the days of the year to which are assigned the liturgical celebrations of saints and of the mysteries of the Lord that are to be observed wherever the Roman Rite is used...

, which had been on September 27, was moved in 1969 to September 26, because September 27 is the dies natalis ("day of birth" into Heaven) of Saint Vincent de Paul
Vincent de Paul
Vincent de Paul was a priest of the Catholic Church who became dedicated to serving the poor. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. He was canonized in 1737....

, now more widely venerated in the Latin Church, but some traditionalist Catholics continue to observe the pre-1970 calendar.

Sts Cosmas and Damian are regarded as the patrons of physicians and surgeons and are sometimes represented with medical emblems.

Sir William Hamilton
William Hamilton (diplomat)
Sir William Hamilton KB, PC, FRS was a Scottish diplomat, antiquarian, archaeologist and vulcanologist. After a short period as a Member of Parliament, he served as British Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples from 1764 to 1800...

 (1730–1803) reported that, among the wax representations of body parts then presented as offerings to the two doctor saints at Isernia
Isernia Isernia Isernia (Latin: Aesernia or, in Pliny and later writers, Eserninus, or in the Antonine Itinerary, Serni is a town and comune in the central Italian region of Molise, and the capital of Isernia province.- Geography :...

, near Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, on their feast day, those of the penis
The penis is a biological feature of male animals including both vertebrates and invertebrates...

 were the most common. They were in fact venerated as patrons of "young girls anxious for a husband, and married women desirous of children."

In Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, the twin saints are regarded as protectors of children, and September 27 is commemorated, especially in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

, by giving children bags of candy with the saints' effigy printed on them and throughout the entire state of Bahia where catholics and adepts of candomblé
Candomblé is an African-originated or Afro-Brazilian religion, practised chiefly in Brazil by the "povo de santo" . It originated in the cities of Salvador, the capital of Bahia and Cachoeira, at the time one of the main commercial crossroads for the distribution of products and slave trade to...

 religion offer typical food such as carurú.
The ritual consists of first offering the food to seven children that are no older than seven years old and have them feast while sitting on the floor and eat with their hands. Only after all children have finished can the guests enjoy the food that is being offered. Saint Cosmas and Damian Church, in Igarassu
Igarassu is a city in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. It is situated on the north coast of the metropolitan region of Recife, approximately 32 km north of the city of Recife...

, Pernambuco
Pernambuco is a state of Brazil, located in the Northeast region of the country. To the north are the states of Paraíba and Ceará, to the west is Piauí, to the south are Alagoas and Bahia, and to the east is the Atlantic Ocean. There are about of beaches, some of the most beautiful in the...

 is Brazil's oldest church, built in 1535.

In the UK St Damian is the dexter side support of the arms of the British Dental Association
British Dental Association
The British Dental Association is the largest voluntary membership organisation for dentists in the UK.-Structure:The majority of the BDA’s 22,000 members are family dentists, working in general practice providing both National Health Service and private care...


Eastern Christianity

In the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, Eastern Catholic Churches, and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Saints Cosmas and Damian are venerated as a type of saint known as Unmercenary Physicians . This classification of saints is unique to the Eastern Church and refers to those who heal purely out of love for God and man, strictly observing the command of Jesus: "Freely have you received, freely give." («Δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε, δωρεὰν δότε...» ) While each of the Unmercenaries have their own feast days, all are commemorated together on the first Sunday in November, in a feast known as the Synaxis
In Eastern Christianity , a Synaxis is an assembly for liturgical purposes, generally through the celebration of Vespers, Matins, Little Hours, and the Divine Liturgy....

 of the Unmercenary Physicians.

The Orthodox celebrate no less than three different sets of saints by the name of Cosmas and Damian, each with its own distinct feast day:
  • Saints Cosmas and Damian of Cilicia (Arabia) (October 17
    October 17 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
    Oct. 16 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - Oct. 18-Fixed commemorations:All fixed commemorations below are observed on October 30 by Old Calendarists-Saints:*Holy Prophet Hosea...

    ) Brothers, they were beaten and beheaded together with three other Christians: Leontius, Anthimus, and Eutropius.
  • Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor — alternately, of Mesopotamia (November 1
    November 1 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
    Oct. 31 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - Nov. 2All fixed commemorations below celebrated on Nov. 14 by Old Calendarists-Saints:* Holy Wonderworkers and Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian of Mesopotamia and their mother Venerable Theodota of Mesopotamia...

    ) Twin sons of Saint Theodota. Died peacefully and were buried together at Thereman in Mesopotamia.
  • Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome (July 1
    July 1 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)
    June 30 - Eastern Orthodox Church calendar - July 2All fixed commemorations below are celebrated on July 14 by Old Calendarists-Saints:*Holy and wonderworker unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, brothers *Martyr Potitus at Naples...

    ) Brothers, they were martyr
    A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

    ed outside Rome by a jealous pagan physician during the reign of the Roman Emperor
    Roman Emperor
    The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

    Carinus , was Roman Emperor 282 to 285. The elder son of emperor Carus, he was appointed Caesar and co-emperor of the western portion of the empire upon his father's accession...


Orthodox icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s of the saints depict them vested as laymen holding medicine boxes. Often each will also hold a spoon with which to dispense medicine. The handle of the spoon is normally shaped like a cross to indicate the importance of spiritual as well as physical healing, and that all cures come from God.

In Russia since 17th century there was a priestly Kosmodemyansky family. Their family name was constructed by joining the names of Saints Cosmas and Damian (Kosma and Demyan in Russian). The family includes Saint Pyotr Kosmodemyansky (1872–1918), a priest murdered by militant atheists for his opposition to blasphemy, and his granddaughter Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya
Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya
Zoya Anatolyevna Kosmodemyanskaya, alternatively Romanised as Kosmodem'yanskaya was a Soviet partisan, and a Hero of the Soviet Union...

 (1923–1941), the most revered martyr of the Soviet Union.

In Rochester, MN, home of the Mayo Clinic, the Greek Orthodox Church is the http://www.holyanargyroi.orgHoly Anargyroi/Sts. Kosmas & Damianos Greek Orthodox Church

Church of England

In the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, dedications of churches to SS Cosmas and Damian are very rare:
  • Blean
    Blean is located in the Canterbury district of Kent, England. It is the name of the civil parish as well as the village within it: the latter is scattered along the road between Canterbury and Whitstable, in the middle of what was once the extensive Forest of Blean.The village name of Blean is...

    , Kent
    Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

    , church of St Cosmus and St Damian in the Blean;
  • Challock
    Challock is a village and civil parish in the Borough of Ashford, Kent, England.The village centre is located between Faversham [8 miles to the north] and Ashford town . It dates from around AD823....

    , Kent
    Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

  • Keymer
    Keymer is a village in the Mid Sussex District of West Sussex, England. It lies on the B2116 road south of Burgess Hill.Keymer was an ancient parish that like its near neighbour Clayton was merged into the modern day parish of Hassocks. Both Keymer and Clayton's records go back as far as the...

    , Sussex
    Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

    , St Cosmas and St Damian Church, Keymer
    St Cosmas and St Damian Church, Keymer
    St Cosmas and St Damian Church is an Anglican church in the village of Keymer, in the Mid Sussex district of West Sussex, England. Rebuilt in 1866 in a style similar to the Saxon building it replaced, it is the parish church of Keymer and now lies within a combined parish serving three villages in...

  • Sherrington
    Sherrington is a village and civil parish on the River Wylye in Wiltshire, England.-Location:Sherrington is near Codford and Salisbury Plain...

    , Wiltshire
    Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

    , church of St Cosmo and St Damian, in the Benefice of the Upper Wylye Valley
    River Wylye
    The River Wylye is a classic southern England chalk stream; champagne clear water flowing over gravel. Consequently, it is popular with anglers keen on fly fishing.- Course :...

  • Stretford, near Leominster
    Leominster is a market town in Herefordshire, England, located approximately north of the city of Hereford and south of Ludlow, at...

    , Herefordshire
    Herefordshire is a historic and ceremonial county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire" NUTS 2 region. It also forms a unitary district known as the...

    , church no longer in use and in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust
    Churches Conservation Trust
    The Churches Conservation Trust, which was initially known as the Redundant Churches Fund, is a charity whose purpose is to protect historic churches at risk, those that have been made redundant by the Church of England. The Trust was established by the Pastoral Measure of 1968...


External links

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