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CHRISTIAN DOCTORS

Father Francis's picture
Saints Cosmas & Damian

Two brothers who put their Christian faith into practice by serving the sick were born in Southern Turkey sometime in the third century. They both trained as doctors and then gave their time and medical skills free to any person who needed their help.

At the same time Cosmas and Damian lost no opportunity to talk about their faith and encourage others to follow Christ. But when the Emperor Diocletian came to the throne in 204 he was determined to make all his subjects worship the pagan gods of Rome: anyone who refused to conform would be put to death and Cosmas and Damian, who had become well-known and loved in their community for their charitable work, were an obvious target for persecution. They were both arrested and tortured, and when they refused to deny their Christian faith, they were beheaded.

It is said that their healing work continues, as many cures have been attributed to their intercession. One grateful client was the Christian Emperor Justinian who, in 527, built a church in Constantinople dedicated to Cosmas and Damian. The Church recognised their importance and included their names in the Roman Canon of the Mass.

Today is an opportunity to thank God for the work of these generous men who, along with Saint Luke, are honoured as the patron saints of physicians and surgeons. It is also an opportunity to reflect on the work of doctors in the modern world who face very different challenges and pressures. We are grateful to science for reducing suffering and disease, but it has also presented doctors with some very difficult moral decisions.

We pray for those who work for organisations like SPUC and LIFE who speak up for the helpless unborn children. May they and all who work in the medical profession be guided and encouraged by Cosmas and Damian to care for all patients lovingly and unselfishly.