Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Sts. Cosmas and Damian were brothers, born of rich Christian parents, at Aegae in Cilicia. Both studied medicine, in order to have an opportunity to gain the Pagans to Christ, and encourage the Christians to virtue as well as to constancy in their faith. God blessed their medical skill to such an extent, that they became celebrated through the whole country for the happy cures which they effected, and pagans, as well as Christians had recourse to them in all dangerous diseases. They asked no fee from their patients, but served them out of love to God. When they visited a patient, they inquired into his ailings, and then cured him by making the sign of the cross over him. They even restored sight to the blind, and made the lame walk. Many heathens, healed in this manner, were converted to the Christian faith, as they not only became convinced of the power of the holy cross, but were also taught by the holy brothers who He was who had died for us on the cross. Hence these two holy physicians were rightly esteemed and honored as apostles by the Christians.
The heathens, however, regarded them as the greatest enemies of their gods: and when the Governor Lysias, by the order of Dioclesian and Maximian, came to Aegas, to exterminate the Christians there, these two brothers were the first who were denounced as magicians and corrupters of the people. Lysias called them to account, but they said fearlessly: “We are no magicians, no corrupters of the people; but in faith, Christians, and physicians by profession. We are not actuated by selfish motives, by lust of gain, in the practice of our science, as we take remuneration from no one. The happy cures we make we owe not so much to our knowledge, as to the power of Jesus Christ, whom we worship as the true God.” It was enough for the governor to know that both professed Christianity. He ordered them to be bound, whipped, and then thrown into the sea. The first of these orders was immediately most cruelly executed, but with the second he did not succeed; for, an angel of the Lord loosened the fetters of the Martyrs and brought them back to the shore, healed of the wounds which they had received in the barbarous whipping. When Lysias was informed of this, he ordered them to be burned alive. They were cast into a burning furnace, but remained unharmed. The tyrant then had them bound to a cross and commanded stones and arrows to be thrown at them; but both stones and arrows rebounded from them without doing them the least injury, while they severely wounded the heathens who were standing around. A great many were converted by this miracle. Lysias alone remained unmoved; and as he knew no other tortures, he condemned the two Saints to die by the sword.
Cosmas and Damian showed great love to the sick, but desired no recompense, because they did it all out of love to God. To labor and to suffer for the love of God is the best intention, and one we should endeavor to cultivate. It is a good and holy intention, when I do or suffer anything to escape hell, but it is a I still better one when I do or suffer anything to gain salvation. It is known that even great saints have made use of such intentions. The noblest and most excellent intention, however, is to do and suffer for the pure love of God only. Make this intention early in the morning, when you say your prayers, and renew it often during the day. Turn your thoughts frequently to the Almighty and say: “Lord, out of love to Thee! to Thy honor!” Especially ought you to do this when what you are about to do is tedious; for this intention will lighten it. Sick persons, who cannot pray much, ought to accustom themselves to repeat these words. Frequently ought they to say or think, while looking up to heaven or to the crucifix: “Lord, I bear this suffering from love to Thee! All out of love to Thee, O my God!” This will bring them consolation arid prove very meritorious. I say very meritorious, yes, even in the highest degree. It will obtain great recompense in heaven; for, St. Chrysostom assures us: “Let us not believe that we shall have no reward when we endeavor to obtain none; for, our recompense will be so much sweeter in heaven.”
Lives of the Saints: Compiled from Authentic Sources with a Practical Instruction on the Life of Each Saint, for Every Day in the Year by Rev. F. X. Weninger. Permissu Superiorum. New York: P. O’Shea, Publisher, 67 Barclay Street and 42 Park Place. 1876.