September 27: Saints Cosmas and Damian, Patron Saints of Physicians

September 27, 2022

At a time when many health professionals feel threatened in their profession because of projects to extend assisted reproductive procedures and restrict the right to conscientious objection concerning abortion, the figures of the physicians Cosmas and Damian, celebrated on September 27 in the universal Church, comes to recall the nobility of a profession entirely turned towards the service of one’s neighbor, the image of the suffering Christ.

Coming from Arabia to practice medicine, converted to the faith of Christ, Cosmas and Damian cared for the poor, liberated the possessed, and restored joy to the melancholy.

Governor Lysias, whom they had cared for, however condemned them to horrible tortures and then to be beheaded, in hatred of the Christian Faith.

Their cult originated in Cyr, a city in northern Syria. Their fame spread rapidly, and there are traces of their cult in Cilicia, Edessa, and even in Egypt. Pope Symmachus (498-514) dedicated an oratory to them in Rome, and Fulgence a monastery in Sardinia, in 520.

Veneration for the two Eastern martyrs was so widespread in the Eternal City that, in addition to the two Stational Masses - in the middle of Lent and on the evening of the Easter octave - a third and a fourth Stations were also celebrated there in the 7th century, September 27 and the previous Sunday. It was a kind of external solemnity, in favor of the people, who, on working days, could not take part in the solemnity of the anniversary of the two saints.

The introit Sapientiam was originally composed in honor of the two eastern scholars, when Felix IV dedicated to them the sanctuary of the Forum of Peace, where the basilica that bears their name still stands today.

Patrons of doctors and health professionals, Cosmas and Damian are the main and best known of these saints venerated in the East as “anargyroï,” anargyres or “without money.” They practiced medicine without asking for remuneration.