Cosmas and Damian: Patron Saints of Universal Health Care

Saints Cosmas and Damian

Martyr. Patron saints of doctors. According to legend, these two early Christian martyrs were twins. Born in Arabia, they are said to have studied medicine in Syria. They then set up a practice in Aegeae, in Cilicia.

They were considered brilliant at their work, but what set them apart from other doctors at the time, was their refusal to charge any fees for their services. They believed that as Christians this was the best form of charity they could practice.

During the Diocletian persecutions, Lysias, the governor of Cilicia, had them arrested and tried. They were hung on crosses and a mob stoned them. Archers then shot them with arrows. Finally they were cut down and beheaded. This took place around 303AD.

The bodies of the two doctors were taken to Syria and buried at Cyrrhus.

In later years many people, including the Emperor Justinian I, would dream of these two saints when ill. In the dreams the doctors would advise patients on treatments and many healings took place after the dreams.

Justinian built a church in their honour in the city of Constantinople. A basilica at Cyrrhus and another in Rome was also dedicated to them. Their names are mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass. —Independent Catholic News

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