Charity is one of the noble duties of a Christian. It is the giving of oneself to those in need without asking for anything in return.
This is where twin saints Cosmas and Damian excelled during their lives on earth. Because of their benevolent decision to refuse payment for their services as physicians, they earned the title “silverless ones.”
Since little is known about these holy brothers, Christian tradition states that they might have been born in Cyrrhus, now Syria. It is believed they later moved to the Gulf of Iskenderun in Cilicia, now Turkey, where they studied to become physicians.
By not taking compensation for treating the sick, the “silverless” brothers gained popularity across Cilicia, especially when their fellow doctors were getting hefty sums of money for their services. Cosmas and Damian used their reputation to attract people to the Christian faith by visiting largely pagan communities.
In fact, there were numerous claims that they were able to heal not through their scientific knowledge, but their fervent prayers that allowed them to perform miracles.
The first transplant of a leg to an amputee is often credited to Cosmas and Damian, a scene often seen in religious art. They have also considered the inventors of the complex compound medicine called opopira, which is used to treat diverse maladies such as paralysis.
The lives of Cosmas and Damian were put in danger when Emperor Diocletian, a religious fanatic who worshipped the Olympian Gods, began to persecute believers of Christ in 303. The twins were among the Christians captured by the Romans and forced to renounce their faith.
Holding on to their Christian beliefs, Cosmas and Damian willingly accepted death. According to various legends, they survived being drowned, thrown into fire, and shot with arrows. In the end, they were beheaded. Their younger brothers, Anthimus, Leontius, and Euprepius, were martyred alongside them.
The twins were believed to be buried in their birthplace Cyrrhus. In the sixth century, Roman Emperor Justinian I restored the city of their burial. Because of this act of charity, he experienced a miraculous cure through the intercession of Cosmas and Damian.
Touched by this mystic event, Emperor Justinian transferred their relics to Constantinople, where he ordered the construction of a church in their honour. This place rapidly became a pilgrimage site, where people were miraculously healed of their ailments by praying at the saints’ tomb.
Pope Symmachus added the names of Cosmas and Damian to the Roman Canon, and Pope Felix IV repurposed a pagan temple in Rome in honour of the twin saints.
Saints Cosmas and Damian are shining examples of how far we can go in life by cultivating a selfless heart. They made themselves known to the world not through their skills alone, but also because of their charitable works that attracted people to the Christian faith.
By offering a helping hand without expecting a reward, we gain spiritual gifts that no material thing can ever match.
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.