Saints Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers from Arabia. It is not known if they were baptized at birth or if they were later converted. However, it is known that their three brothers, Leontius, Euprepius, and Anthimus, were also Christians.
Cosmas and Damian had studied the sciences in Syria and later became popular physicians in Aegea. The brothers are often referred to as healers and it is thought that this gift was not because of their medical skills but rather because they were such devout Christians. Although they worked many miracles, they never accepted any money. Consequently, they were nicknamed “Anargyri” which is Greek for “without fees” or “silverless”.
According to legend, the brothers tended an unknown man, very likely a nobleman, who lost his leg because of ulcers. Cosmas and Damian managed to replace his leg by miraculously grafting on the leg of a deceased Ethiopian.
The brothers were almost immediately arrested when the Diocletian Persecution broke out. Needless to say, they refused to renounce the Faith. Before their death, they underwent horrible tortures such as crucifixion and stoning. They were eventually martyred by beheading. It is thought that their martyrdom took place sometime between 287 and 303. The exact date is not known.
Their three brothers were also arrested and martyred around the same time as they were. How and when the three died is not known.
Saints Cosmas and Damian are always invoked during the Communicantes prayer of the Canon of the Mass.
There has been an ongoing dispute about the relics of the twin brothers. During the 6th century, the Emperor Justinian (527-565) supposedly brought their relics to Constantinople. In 1581, however, a woman related to the Holy Roman Emperor made a gift of two skulls to a convent of Poor Clare nuns in Madrid, Spain. It is thought that they are the skulls of Cosmas and Damian and that they had been removed from Rome sometime during the 10th century. These skulls are still kept in the convent in Spain.
During the 14th century, an archbishop from Bremen, Germany, claimed that he had been miraculously guided to the place where the skulls of Saints Cosmas and Damian were hidden. The relics the archbishop found can still be seen in Saint Michael’s Church in Munich, Germany.
It is not known if any of these relics are authentic.
Saints Cosmas and Damian are the patron saints of surgeons. Their feast day is September 26.
Source: Butler’s Lives of the Saints