The life of Saints Cosmas and Damian


Saint martyrs unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian were two brothers who lived in the second part of the III century. Their parents were rich and honorable Romans. As Christians they brought their children up according to the laws of Christ, and then they let them do natural sciences, just like all rich people of that time did.

They were interested in medicine most of all. They studied human diseases and with great interest and learned healing properties of plants and herbs with zeal. They were very impressed by the words from The Gospel: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew, 10:8). The brothers decided to devote their lives to following this commandment.

God blessed their decision and bestowed a special skill of healing and curing on them. They could cope with any disease. Sick people and animals recovered as soon as the healers started to cure them. The wonder-wonders did not charge for helping the sick. What is more, they helped poor people to make ends meet. They sold all of their possesions they got from their parents after their death and gave away all the money raised among the poor. Thus they proved themselves to be unmercenaries.

Although they were living at the time of hard persecution of Christians, they decided to use their talent in the name of God. To do this they bypassed Rome and all the surrounding towns and villages and looked for sick people. Before helping anyone they offered them the teachings of Christ: “Know, that we just lay on our hands on you, but without the help and great power of God we can do nothing. He is almighty and He can heal you. Accept Him and you will be cured”. The sick people believed and got well, and thus the herd of Christ became bigger. It is obvious, that the pagan government should have noticed them sooner or later. If Christians were tortured and executed at that time, then what would the evident preachers of Christ expect? The saints Cosmas and Damian were snitched to the emperor.

Carinus was the emperor of the Roman Empire at that time. He listened to the accusers and sent the warriors to arrest the healers and take them to the trial. The saints were living near Rome in a small village, in which the estate of their parents was standing. When the warriors arrived, they asked the inhabitants about the healers. But the faithful people informed the saints about the danger at once. They asked them to hide at least for a while. But the saints wanted to reveal themselves to the warriors as they were burning with desire to suffer in the name of God. The inhabitants asked the healers to save themselves as they are those who can save many lives. The healers agreed, and so they were hidden in a cave.

The warriors did not find them. In anger they caught the honorable men from the village and put them in chains to drive them to Rome. When Cosmas and Damian learning of these events, they left the cave and got up to the warriors. They asked them to set those people free and take them, as it had been ordered. And then they were enchained and brought to Rome, and they were imprisoned till the next day. And the next day the emperor asked them:
- Are you those ones, who struggle against our gods? With magical tricks you mislead the people and make them reject our paternal gods and laws. You are mistaken, but listen to what I advise you – make a sacrifice to our gods, which had been bearing with you for so long and did not cause any harm to you.
- We did not mislead anyone. We did not know any magical tricks and did not curse anyone. But we cure people with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, just as he had commanded: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew, 10:8). We strive not for wealth, but for salvation. Know the true Lord, emperor, and reject these soulless idols.

- I called you not for declaiming, but for making a sacrifice to the gods! – exclaimed the emperor.

- We make sacrifices to our true God only, - answered the saints. Our Lord is the creator of the whole world, while your gods are invented by people.

- Do not offend the eternal gods, - said Carinus, - bend to them or you will suffer.

Then the saint unmercenaries were filled with the Holy Ghost and said: “You renounce God, so then your face will renounce you to your shame”.

The emperor’s face altered and twisted at once. The people who saw that declared: “God of the Christians is great, and there is no other gods except from Him”. Many of them believed in God after that, and they prayed the saints, that they cured the emperor. The emperor himself prayed too.

- Now I believe you are the servants of the true Lord. I beg you to cure me just as you had cured the others.

- If you believe with all our heart, then He will cure you.

Then the emperor exclaimed: “I believe in You, the true Lord Jesus Christ! Have mercy upon me and forgive me my ignorance!” As he said that, his neck and his face became normal. The emperor stood up and honored God; the saints were set free.

Order an icon of St. Cosmas and St. Damian


When the inhabitants found out what had happened in Rome, they went towards the wonderworkers and together they rejoiced and honored God. Cosmas and Damian began to visit different cities and villages to cure people and to tell them about Christ. But after that their life was not long. Devil found another way to harm those men.

There was a famous doctor in that land – the one who taught the saints medicine. Good reputation of the doctors undermined his own fame. He became jealous, and that led to murder. When he called them, he persuaded them with flattery to climb the mountain to gather herbs. To gather more of them, he offered to split up. The brothers agreed. That was just what the insidious master needed.
While the brothers were alone, he attacked them separately and killed with a stone. There was a stream near that place, and on the bank he buried their bodies. That is how saint Cosmas and Damian were murdered.


That happened under the same emperor Carinus, and it means that it was before the year 285. According to the life story of the saints they were killed in their younger years. When Christianity finally came to Rome, one of the pagan shrines was turned into a Christian one and was named after saint martyrs unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian. The famous mosaics of this cathedral remain in good condition since the VI century.


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