Commemorated on July 1, November 1
The Holy Martyrs,
Wonderworkers and UnMercenaries Cosmas and Damian – were brothers by
birth, born at Rome, and physicians by profession. They accepted a martyr's
death at Rome under the emperor Carinus (283-284). They were brought up by
their parents in the rules of piety, they led strict and chaste lives, and they
were granted by God the graced gift of healing the sick. By their good and
unselfish attitude towards people, combined with their exceptional kindliness,
the brothers converted many to Christ. The saints usually said to the sick:
"It be not by our power that we treat the sick, but by the power of
Christ, the True God. Believe in Him and be healed". For their unselfish
doctoring of the infirm, the holy brothers were called "unmercenary
Their active service
towards neighbour and spiritual influence on the surroundings, leading many
into the Church, attracted the attention of the Roman authorities. Soldiers
were sent after the brothers. Hearing about this, Christians implored Saints
Cosmas and Damian to hide themselves away for a while until they could render
them help. But the soldiers, not finding the brothers, arrested instead other
Christians of the settlement, where the saints lived. Saints Cosmas and Damian
then came out of hiding and delivered themselves over into the hands of the soldiers,
asking them to set free those arrested because of them.
At Rome, the saints
were at first locked up in prison, and then were taken for trial. The saints
openly confessed before the Roman emperor and the judge their faith in Christ
God, having come into the world to save mankind and redeem the world from sin, and
they resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. They said:
"We have caused evil for no one, we have not involved ourselves with the
magic or sorcery, of which you accuse us. We doctor the infirm by the power of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we do not take any sort of recompense for
rendering aid to the sick, because our Lord commanded His disciples:
"Freely ye have received, freely give" (Mt. 10: 8).
The emperor however
continued with his demands. Through the prayer of the holy brothers, imbued
with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus blind, so that he too in
his own experience might know the almightiness of the Lord, not forgiving
blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The people, beholding the miracle, cried
out: "Great is the Christian God and no other is God, except Him!"
Many of those that believed besought the holy brothers to heal the emperor, and
he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to the True God Christ the
Saviour. The saints healed him. After this, Saints Cosmas and Damian were with
honour set free and again they set about doctoring the sick.
But what the hatred
of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities could not do, was done by
black envy, one of the strongest passions of the sinful nature of man. An older
physician – an instructor, under whom in their time the holy brothers had
studied the medical craft, became jealous of their fame. Driven to madness by
this malice, and all overcome by passion, he summoned the holy brothers,
formerly his most beloved students, that they should all get together for a
gathering of various medicinal herbs, and setting far off into the mountains,
he murdered them, throwing their bodies into a river.
Thus as martyrs ended
the earthly journey of these holy brothers – the Unmercenary Healers Cosmas
and Damian. They had devoted all their life to a Christian service to
neighbour, having escaped the Roman sword and prison, but treacherously
murdered by a teacher.
The Lord glorified
His God-pleasing ones. And now through the prayers of the holy Unmercenaries
Cosmas and Damian is received healing from God for all, who with faith recourse
to their saintly intercession.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.