The Holy Unmercenaries, Cosmas and Damian

Commemorated November 1st

Saints Cosmas and Damian were brothers born in Ephesus in the 3rd century AD. Theodota, their mother, was raised a Christian and provided her sons an example of real, unconditional love. Cosmas and Damian became well educated and both dedicated themselves to the art of medicine.

The Grace of God extended their art so that the pair cast out unclean spirits and spiritually healed those who approached them. People began to seek out the gifted brothers from all over, and each one found healing and comfort. Having freely received the Holy Spirit, Cosmas and Damian tended to all people seeking nothing in return. Thus they are called unmercenaries, meaning unmaterialistic or noncommercial. In Greek the term is anargyroi, meaning adverse to silver.

The pair practised philotimo (gratitude and service to all) everyday by living in devotion to others. Saint Damian, the younger brother, was the first to pass away in peace from this temporal life, followed some time later by Saint Cosmas. Crowds came in a constant stream to the church built over their tomb in Fereman in Asia Minor. Their precious relics remain an abundant source of healing for the sick. Saints Cosmas and Damian, and all the Holy Unmercenaries are invoked in the service of Holy Unction in the Orthodox Church. Hymns to them are traditionally chanted after the service while the faithful receive the Holy Oil.


Source: Lychnos October / November 2016