Santi Cosma e Damiano
The basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian sits on the site of the ancient Roman Forum, a few hundred yards down from the Colosseum. Its patrons were two brothers who lived during the late third century in Syria. As medical professionals they used their skills to heal people without seeking payment for their work. The two were martyred around 303 AD during the Diocletian persecutions in the city of Aegea, then a part of Roman Syria. They were convicted for their faith before a tribunal and were tortured before being decapitated. Their relics were later brought to the city of Cyr before being transferred to Rome during the time of Pope St. Gregory the Great (+604).
Some of the foundation walls where this basilica is built date as far back as Emperor Vespasian (ruled 69 - 79). Pope Felix IV (+530) modified the Roman building there to convert it into a Christian place of worship. The apse mosaics which we see today come from that time as well (nifty!).
|This is the side entrance to the church, so it doesn't look like much of a church from this angle.|
|We walked through a small courtyard of an attached Franciscan cloister before entering the basilica.|
I was really surprised when I walked in. This church is really short and squat. The last picture is taken almost from the very back. There is room enough for about 60-70 people in the pews, so half of us lined the rear and side chapels. The art in here is beautiful though, especially the apse mosaic (6th century) and the high altar (17th century) with a Madonna and Child icon from the 13th century.
In the mosaic, Christ in the middle stands on the River Jordan and is flanked by Ss. Peter and Paul who are presenting Cosmas and Damian to the Lord. The two brothers each hold a crown, symbols of their victory for Christ, while the palm trees in the image are symbols of martyrdom. Pope Felix is all the way on the left, holding in his hand the church he established