Cosmas and Damian, brothers from a distinguished family in Arabia, were physicians who never accepted fees, and were known in Rome as “the holy moneyless workers,” “the silverless physicians.” Their learning, their skill in healing, and their devout life gained for the Christian religion many converts. They were arrested during the earliest persecutions of Diocletian, tortured by fire, water and the cross, and finally beheaded, probably in the year 287. The great Dominican artist, Blessed Fra Angelico, has painted scenes from the lives of these two martyred physicians, which may be seen in Florence.
In their Basilica the mosaics are the richest in Rome. The most ancient monument in their honour is an oratory adjacent to Saint Mary Major, which was dedicated to them in the fifth century by Pope Saint Symmachus.