Every Sunday during the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest recites the names of Saints Cosmas and Damian.
Who were these saintly brothers, whose names are so familiar to us?
Cosmas and Damian were two brothers living in Saudi Arabia during the reign of Diocletian (284–305 A.D.) and the persecution of the early Christians. They studied medicine in Syria and practiced it together.
They were supernaturally skilled and developed an outstanding reputation due to their remarkable gifts. Practicing medicine free of charge, they became known as the “Moneyless Ones,” or Anargyroi, in the Eastern Church.
Desiring to heal more than just bodies, they shared their belief in Christ with their patients while ministering to their needs. They also prayed for, and with, their patients.
Cooperating with God’s grace, they brought about healings many considered miraculous. Renowned for their work healing both bodies and souls, the twin brothers caught the attention of Lysias, the Roman governor. Lysias ordered their capture and condemned them to death.
Ancient Church histories record that they were first cast into the sea with their three brothers, Anthimus, Euprepius, and Leonitis. An angel is said to have saved them by delivering them safely to shore. Later the twins were burned, stoned, and shot with arrows, and yet they remained unharmed and refused to renounce their Faith. Finally, executioners beheaded Cosmas and Damian when they realized they could not force the faithful brothers to apostatize.
Eventually, Christians constructed a church over their burial site in Cyrrhus.
When the Roman Emperor Justinian, a Christian, became ill, he prayed to the brothers for a cure. Upon receiving this favor, he enlarged the city of Cyrrhus and the church in their honor.
Because of their heroic martyrdom and healing miracles, they joined the ranks of martyrs, saints, and holy virgins named in the Roman Canon, or Eucharistic Prayer I, where you and I still hear of them today.
Inspired by Sts. Cosmas and Damian, may we all strive to live our Faith with boldness and give to one another with the generosity of the Gospel!
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