Sts. Cosmas & Damian were twins and early Christian martyrs born in Arabia who practised the art of healing in the seaport of Aegea (modern Ayas) in the Gulf of Issus, then in the Roman province of Syria. They accepted no payment for their services, which led them to be nicknamed “anargyroi” (The Silverless); it is said that by this, they led many to the Christian faith.
During the persecution under Diocletian, Cosmas and Damian were arrested by order of the Prefect of Cilicia, one Lysias who is otherwise unknown, who ordered them under torture to recant. However, according to legend they stayed true to their faith, enduring being hung on a cross, stoned and shot by arrows and finally suffered execution by beheading. Anthimus, Leontius and Euprepius, their younger brothers, who were inseparable from them throughout life, shared in their martyrdom.
Their most famous miraculous exploit was the grafting of a leg from a recently deceased Ethiopian to replace a patient’s ulcered leg, and was the subject of many paintings and illuminations.
Sts. Cosmas and Damian are regarded as the patrons of physicians and surgeons and are sometimes represented with medical emblems. They are invoked in the Canon of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints.
What are said to be their skulls are venerated in the convent of the Clares in Madrid, where they have been since 1581, the gift of Maria, daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V