COSMAS & DAMIAN THE HOLY UNMERCENARIES
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS
Cosmas & Damian the Holy Unmercenaries, Constantine the New Martyr of Cyprus, Aaron and Julius the Martyrs of Caerelon, Germanus, Bishop of the Isle of Man
ST. PAUL’S FIRST LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS 12:27-31; 13:1-8
Brethren, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
MATTHEW 10:1, 5-8
At that time, Jesus called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.”
The Holy Martyrs, Wonderworkers and Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian were born at Rome, brothers by birth, and physicians by profession. They suffered at Rome in the reign of the emperor Carinus (283-284). Brought up by their parents in the rules of piety, they led strict and chaste lives, and they were granted by God the gift of healing the sick. By their generosity and exceptional kindness to all, the brothers converted many to Christ. The brothers told the sick, “It is not by our own power that we treat you, but by the power of Christ, the true God. Believe in Him and be healed.” Since they accepted no payment for their treatment of the infirm, the holy brothers were called “unmercenary physicians.”
Their life of active service and their great spiritual influence on the people around them led many into the Church, attracting the attention of the Roman authorities. Soldiers were sent after the brothers. Hearing about this, local Christians convinced Saints Cosmas and Damian to hide for a while until they could help them escape. Unable to find the brothers, the soldiers arrested instead other Christians of the area where the saints lived. Saints Cosmas and Damian then came out of hiding and surrendered to the soldiers, asking them to release those who had been arrested because of them.
At Rome, the saints were imprisoned and put on trial. Before the Roman emperor and the judge they openly professed their faith in Christ God, Who had come into the world to save mankind and redeem the world from sin, and they resolutely refused to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. They said, “We have done evil to no one, we are not involved with the magic or sorcery of which you accuse us. We treat the infirm by the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and we take no payment for rendering aid to the sick, because our Lord commanded His disciples, ‘Freely have you received, freely give’ (Mt. 10: 8).”
The emperor, however, continued with his demands. Through the prayer of the holy brothers, imbued with the power of grace, God suddenly struck Carinus blind, so that he too might experience the almighty power of the Lord, Who does not forgive blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mt. 12:31). The people, beholding the miracle, cried out, “Great is the Christian God! There is no other God but Him!” Many of those who believed besought the holy brothers to heal the emperor, and he himself implored the saints, promising to convert to the true God, Christ the Savior, so the saints healed him. After this, Saints Cosmas and Damian were honorably set free, and once again they set about treating the sick.
But what the hatred of the pagans and the ferocity of the Roman authorities could not do, was accomplished by black envy, one of the strongest passions of sinful human nature. An older physician, an instructor, under whom the holy brothers had studied the art of medicine, became envious of their fame. Driven to madness by malice, and overcome by passionate envy, he summoned the two brothers, formerly his most beloved students, proposing that they should all go together in order to gather various medicinal herbs. Going far into the mountains, he murdered them and threw their bodies into a river.
Thus these holy brothers, the Unmercenary Physicians Cosmas and Damian, ended their earthly journey as martyrs. Although they had devoted their lives to the Christian service of their neighbors, and had escaped the Roman sword and prison, they were treacherously murdered by their teacher.
The Lord glorifies those who are pleasing to God. Now, through the prayers of the holy martyrs Cosmas and Damian, God grants healing to all who with faith have recourse to their heavenly intercession.
The Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Rome should not be confused with the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Asia Minor (November 1), or the Unmercenary Saints Cosmas and Damian of Arabia (October 17).
The Holy Martyr Potitus suffered under the emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned 138-161). Having become familiar with the Christian teaching, the young Potitus believed in the true God and accepted holy Baptism at thirteen years of age. When he learned of this, his pagan father was extremely upset and tried, first by endearments, and then by threats to dissuade his son from his faith in Christ the Savior, but his efforts were in vain. Impressed by the boy’s firmness of faith, the father also came to believe in the Son of God and became a Christian himself.
Saint Potitus traveled through many lands preaching about Christ, and by the power of God he worked wondrous miracles.
In the region of Epiros, lived the illustrious woman Kyriake, the wife of a senator; she was afflicted with leprosy. Hearing of Saint Potitus, she summoned him and asked him to heal her. The saint declared that if she believed in Christ, she would be healed. The woman accepted holy Baptism and was immediately made well. Seeing such a miracle, her husband and all their household believed in Christ and were baptized as well.
After this, the saint settled on Mount Garganus and lived in solitude, among the animals. He was found there by servants of the emperor Antoninus, whose daughter was possessed by a demon. Through the lips of the maiden, the devil said that he would come out of her only if Potitus should come. They brought the holy youth to the emperor, and through the prayers of Saint Potitus the demon released the girl. But instead of being grateful, the emperor treated the saint with inhuman cruelty. For his firm confession of faith in Christ the Savior, and for his refusal to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, to whom the emperor imputed the healing of his daughter, he ordered that the saint’s tongue be torn out, and that he be blinded. After lengthy torture, Saint Potitus was finally beheaded.
Saint Peter was born into a patrician family at Constantinople at the end of the eighth century. During the reign of the Byzantine emperor Nikēphóros (802-811) Peter was commissioned as an officer and participated in the campaigns of the Greek army against Bulgaria. In one particular battle the emperor was mortally wounded, and Peter was one of many soldiers taken captive.
One night, while he was praying, the holy Evangelist John the Theologian appeared to him in a vision and released him from captivity. Having returned to Constantinople, Saint Peter left the world and withdrew into a monastery on Mount Olympus (in Asia Minor) and became a monk. There he passed his time in constant ascetic efforts for 34 years under the guidance of Saint Joannicius the Great (November 4). Saint Peter lived all his monastic life in strict fasting and constant vigil, wearing a prickly hair-shirt and going barefoot. He lived the final eight years of his life at Constantinople, where he founded a church and a monastery named for Saint Euandrus.
Saint Peter died in 854 in the seventieth year of his life, and was buried in his monastery.
Saint Angelina was the daughter of Prince George Skenderbeg of Albania. Her mother’s name is not known, but she raised her daughter in Christian piety and taught her to love God.
Saint Stephen Brancovich (October 9 and December 10), the ruler of Serbia, had come to Albania to escape those who wished to kill him. Some time before he arrived in Albania, Saint Stephen was unjustly blinded by the Turkish Sultan for some perceived offense. Since he was innocent, he bore his affliction with courage.
Saint Stephen was not only Prince George’s guest, but he was also treated as a member of his family. Not surprisingly, Stephen and Angelina eventually fell in love. With her parents’ blessing, they were married in church. After a few years, they were blessed with two sons: George and John.
When the boys were grown, Saint Stephen and his family were forced to flee to Italy for their safety. At that time the Turks invaded Albania and began to slaughter men, women, and even children.
Saint Stephen died in 1468, leaving Angelina a widow. In her distress, she turned to the ruler of Hungary for help. He gave them the town of Kupinovo in Sirmie.
Saint Angelina left Italy with her sons in 1486, stopping in Serbia to bury Saint Stephen’s incorrupt body in his native land.
The children of these pious parents also became saints. George gave up his claim to the throne in favor of his brother John, then entered a monastery and received the name Maximus.
John was married, but had no sons. He died in 1503 at a young age, and many miracles took place before his holy relics.
Saint Angelina survived her husband and both of her sons. Mindful of her soul’s salvation, she entered a women’s monastery. She departed to the Lord in peace, and her body was buried in the same tomb as her sons in the monastery of Krushedol in Frushka Gora.
Saint Angelina is also commemorated on December 10 with her husband Saint Stephen and her son Saint John.
On October 19, 1238 the relics of Saint John of Rila were solemnly transferred to the new capital, Trnovo, and put in a church dedicated to the saint. Then on July 1, 1469 the holy relics of Saint John were returned to the Rila monastery, where they rest to the present day, granting grace-filled help to all the believers.
See his Life on August 18.
Saint Leontius was born in Rădăuţi, Moldavia in the fourteenth century. He was named Laurence when he received the monastic tonsure. In time he was found worthy of ordination to the holy priesthood, and founded a monastery near Rădăuţi, which later became known as Saint Laurence’s Monastery. Among his many disciples was Saint Daniel the Hesychast (December 18).
Because of his holy life, he received from God the grace of working miracles. Many sick people were healed by his prayers, and he became a father, teacher, and protector to all.
Prince Alexander the Good recommended that he be made Bishop of Rădăuţi. Saint Leontius led his flock with wisdom for many years, then retired to live alone in the wilderness. He received the Great Schema with the name of Leontius, and departed to the Lord soon afterward. His holy relics were found incorrupt, and many people received healing at his tomb.
Saint Leontius was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Romania in 1992.