Our Patron Saints

Saints Anargyroi - Cosmas and Damian

The name of our church can be a tough one to pronounce or for us to spell for others, whether we say the English Saints Anargyroi or the Greek Agioi Anargyroi. The combination of a trilled alveolar flap r with the voiced velar and palatal fricative gs make for a mouthful to say for even the strongest native Greek speaker. But it is well worth learning how to properly voice the title of Saints Cosmas and Damian, the Holy Anargyroi or Unmercenaries (even the translation of Anargyroi is unwieldy and rarely used in English).

These twin brother saints lived in the third century and were physicians who refused monetary payment for their services. Anargyroi literally means “without silver” and is a reference to this practice. They did their work in Asia Minor and their strong faith put them at odds with the prevailing paganism of the Roman Empire under Diocletian, a ferocious persecutor of Christianity. Cosmas and Damian ultimately were tortured and beheaded for their refusal to renounce Christianity, and have been venerated as saints ever since. There have even been other twins through the centuries named after our patrons who followed them in their good works and have been recognized as saints.

The saints with the hard title to pronounce live on as powerful examples and intercessors for us. Their troparion is sung on Holy Wednesday throughout the Orthodox world, and most churches have an icon of them holding their distinctive medical boxes and spoons (some icons show them holding urine flasks, for analysis of urine was one way in which doctors examined health). They are the patron saints of the national and of each individual Philoptochos. Our church is one of only three in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to be named after these formidable saints. We are truly blessed.