Commemorated on July 1
“Freely have you received, freely give” (Mt. 10: 8).
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).
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, Sts 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).
Excerpt from: Lives of Saints
Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
Certain angels first failed to preserve their dignity and later, as a result of the envy of these fallen angels, our forebears Adam and Eve also fell. This very same trait, envy, has put down its roots in us, too. Envy stops at nothing and shouts contradictions in God’s face all the time and everywhere.
How does envy act? Envy is a spirit from hades. It battles unceasingly against righteousness and God. God is Love, and envy cannot bear it when we do good to our neighbor. When the Lord, Who is Love, healed the old woman who had been bent over for eighteen years, evil showed its face at once and immediately began to rebel, for envy cannot bear it when good is done to anyone (cf. Luke 13:11-17). Envy never stops; the spirit of hades envies all men for all things.
One of the God-bearing Fathers, St. Nilus the Myrrh-gusher…has explained to us many of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. He said that envy was the seal of the Antichrist on the heart of man. Do you now see what a terrible thing envy is? But alas, we often envy our neighbor, even our closest of kin. We do not care even to attempt to heal ourselves from this affliction and come to our senses.
-Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine our Lives, p. 184
Troparion — Tone 8
Holy unmercenaries and wonderworkers, Cosmas and Damian, visit our infirmities. Freely you have received; freely give to us.
Kontakion — Tone 2
Having received the grace of healing, / you grant healing to those in need. / Glorious wonder workers and physicians, Cosmas and Damian, / visit us and put down the insolence of our enemies, / and bring healing to the world through your miracles.