050. Worship of the saints: medicine.


The Christian religious tradition includes the worship of the saints as one of its pillars. The similarities with Greco-Roman custom are (at least) too great to know.

The miracle of the Hermitage niche in San Tirso and San Bernabe (Merindade de Sutusquiva). Photo by MG Valeno.

We can distinguish at least two details in the Christian miraculous tradition. One is the early appearance of parallels between pagan heroes and Christian saints, for example, a pair of saints curiously resembling what the classical tradition claimed about the most famous physicians in mythology. Cosme and Damian were medical twins born to Christian parents and historians in the 19th century. Third. They practiced medicine in Cilicia, specifically in the Aegean Sea (modern verses), until it was said for free. If their knowledge was not enough, then their belief in God gave them the most necessary healing, to the point that they were able to convert many pagans. His death occurred during the persecution of Diocletian: they were arrested with his three younger brothers and subjected to torture, stoning, and crucifixion, but emerged alive. Finally, a decree was issued to behead him, and it appears to have been effective.

The myth of these martyrs does not only include the miracle of their constant resistance to torment. It is interesting to note how, once they died, they behaved like another immortal physician, Asclepius, who during sleep performed the therapy or inspired the treatment. Thus, perhaps the best known miracle of these saints is the healing of a leg afflicted with severe ischemia. Deacon Justinian, attached to the Cathedral of these Saints in Rome, suffered serious gangrene in one of his legs. In one night after praying so much for the brothers, She appeared to him in a dream discussing how to treat the problem. They decided to amputate a man, an Ethiopian man who was recently killed, and then replace his leg, “he no longer needs it.” Upon waking up, the deacon felt recovered and found that his illness had already disappeared from his body.

The great similarity with the miracle of Asclepius I mentioned in post-049. What is more is the fact that the saints were brothers, like the mythical Mashaun and Podalerio, who appear in the Iliad as doctors of the Greek army. The best known treatment for these ailments is the one they found for Philoctetes, one of the Greek leaders who was bitten by a snake on the island of Tenedos during the journey to Troy. The accident resulted in a terrible infection by rotting and stench that drove his comrades to abandon him on the island. When, as a result of Oracle, the Philoctetes were taken to Troy to conquer the city, the brothers cured them of this type of gangrene.

The second interesting detail of the Christian tradition about miraculous saints (in fact almost all of them), is the existence of many sanctuaries that celebrate extraordinary treatments: through paintings, sculptures, and poems that relate (sometimes in an earlier form of modern comics) the history of these treatments, a custom that We totally recorded it in Epidaurus, as Asclepius inspired healing during dreams. One of the many examples is the top picture of this post, which was taken at San Tirso and San Bernabe sanctuary in the caves of Ojo Guarena. The ceiling of the cave and the walls at a certain height are covered with frescoes representing the miracles that the poems helped to explain the pictures.

Regarding the miracles, this time related to the shape of Jesus of Nazareth, here is a link to an interview that Gabriel Andrade gave to me a few months ago:


Best Regards.

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