SS. Cosmas and Damian Church
Conshohocken, PA
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Saints Cosmas and Damian: Martyrs, c 303
Saints Cosmas and Damian are always honored together. Since ancient times there has been widespread devotion through the Church. There names are mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. All that can be said about them with certainty is that they were martyred under Diocletian and were buried at Cyrrhus in Syria. Their origin and true history is beyond recall, but from among the extravagant and historically worthless fragments of tales about them a story can be reconstructed. It goes as follows.
Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers who were born in Arabia and who studied the sciences in Syria. They settled down to practice medicine at Aegeae, a town on the Gulf of Issus in Asia Minor. Legend tells us that one was a physician (doctor) and the other a pharmacist (druggist). They were loved by all with whom they came in contact, and they were called the "holy moneyless ones". They treated the sick without ever accepting any money for their services. They were very active Christians, and they preached their faith whenever possible.
They were too well known as Christians to go unnoticed when Diocletian began his persecution. The governor of Cilicia apprehended them and, after inflicting various torments, beheaded the doctors. Their bodies were transported back to northern Syria and buried at Cyrhus.
Legend attributes many miracles to Cosmas and Damian. They are said to have defied death by water, fire, and crucifixion before they were beheaded. Many miracles of healing were credited to the pair after their death, the saints appearing to the sick and either prescribing a medicine for them or effecting a direct cure. Emperor Justinian I attributed recovery from an illness to them and rebuilt a church in Constantinople in their honor. Other churches under their patronage were built in Pamphylia and Cappadocia, provinces of Asia Minor, at Aegeae, Jerusalem, and Rome.
The "moneyless ones" are still honored today. They are the patron saints of physicians and surgeons. They are likewise the patrons of prescription druggists and apothecaries.
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