Today is the memorial of Saints Cosmas and Damien. For this occasion, we’ll share an article in this month’s St. Anne’s Broadcaster which recognized them as our “Saints of the Month.” It was written by Kathy Lieberg.
Cosmas & Damien were twins, born during the third century in Arabia. The major shrines for them are at the Convent of the Poor Clares in Madrid, Spain, the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Rome and in Bitonto, Bari, Italy. There is virtually nothing known about their lives. It was after their deaths that miraculous things began to happen. It is known that they were both doctors and are thus patron saints of physicians, surgeons and pharmacists.
In Brazil, they are known as protectors of children. September 27 (which used to be their feast day) is commemorated, especially in Rio de Janeiro, by giving children bags of candy with the saints’ effigy printed on them. In Utica, NY there is a yearly celebration which takes place at St. Anthony’s Parish with a two-day festival including several busloads from Canada.
There is an interesting Orthodox icon depicting these saints as vested laymen holding medicine boxes. They are often shown holding a spoon with which to dispense medicine. The handle of the spoon is normally shaped like a cross to indicate the importance spiritual as well as physical healing and that all cures come from God!