Patron Saints

Saint Cosmus and Saint Damian

('Cosmus' - with a 'u' - is our local spelling. The name is usually spelt as 'Cosmos' or 'Cosmas').

According to legend, Cosmus and Damian were twins who lived in the 3rd Century AD and came from Arabia or Asia Minor, but had a ministry in Syria. They were medical healers (note that they are usually depicted holding medicine spoons or containers) and were known as 'the silverless' because they performed healings out of Christian charity, never taking money. It is traditionally claimed that the two saints carried out the first 'organ transplant', successfully grafting the leg of a recently deceased Ethiopian onto one of their patients, whose ulcerated leg had first been removed. The saints are said to have been martyred during the persecution of Christians under Roman Emperor Diocletian.

The cult of Cosmus and Damian seems to have been very significant in the 5th and 6th Century Church in Rome and Southern and Eastern Europe and we often wonder whether there may be some connection between the establishment/dedication of our church (which is likely to occupy the site of a former pagan woodland shrine) and the mission of St Augustine and his monks - many of whom would have been fans of Cosmus and Damian - who definitely arrived in Canterbury, from Rome, in 597AD.

 

English churches which are dedicated to Cosmos and Damian are very rare (there are only 5, the nearest neighbour being Challock in Kent), but can be quite common in Mediterranean countries.

Members of our congregation have recently visited churches dedicated to our patron saints in Rome, Bari (Southern Italy) and Santorini, the Greek Island. Cosmus and Damian are featured among the statues on the Charles Bridge, Prague (see left). Here they flank a Risen Christ. The statuary is by Oldrich Mayer, 1709.