at prayer

Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian
Sts Cosmas and Damian.
Feast Day 26 Sept: Pina
Martyrs. c 287

Twin brothers who were physicians. Their strict observation of the command of Jesus, “Freely have you received, freely give” led them to refuse payment for their services. They were known as anargyroi, “the silverless” and are revered in the Eastern Orthodox Church as Unmercenary Physicians. They were also veterinarians.

Their most famous exploit was grafting a leg from a recently deceased black Ethiopian on to a white patient. On one occasion Damian healed a seriously ill woman who then presented him with three eggs and begged him to accept them in the name of the Holy Trinity. He dared not refuse. Unhappily Cosmas blamed him for breaking their vow not to accept payment and said their bones would never lie together. However, a camel that the brothers had cured came to him in a vision and speaking in a human voice told him that Damian had accepted the eggs not as payment but out of respect for the name of God.

Shortly after, the brothers were persecuted by Diocletian and after surviving horrendous tortures were beheaded along with their three younger brothers. Inseparable in life, they wished to share their martyrdom.

The church of the Poor Clares in Madrid claims to have their heads, as do other churches. A 1315 inventory of the mother church of England at Canterbury lists some of their bones, jawbones and nine teeth.