According to the Golden Legend St. Cosmas and St. Damian were twin physicians in Syria who did not accept fees. Because they and their three brothers would not sacrifice to idols, the proconsul Lisias had Cosmas and Damian cast into the sea. They survived, so he had them burned at the stake. Still no luck, so he had them mounted on crucifixes and ordered archers to shoot them and the people of the city to cast stones at them. But the arrows and stones reversed course and shot back at those who had aimed them. Finally Lisias had all five brothers beheaded
In early mosaics the saints are either identified by labels (example) or distinguished only by their martyrs' crowns (example). In medieval portraits they are usually shown in similar or identical garments and often wear hats like those seen at right. Sometimes medical instruments appear as their attributes (example).
Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-10-21.