Thursday of Week III of Lent
Located outside the ancient Roman Forum, a government building existed at this site in the first century, and was converted into the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian in the 6th century. The apse mosaics that you can still see date to the same century. In the 8th century, Pope Adrian I established it as a Diaconal Church, to provide charitable service to the people.
Behind the church is the round-shaped Temple of Jupiter Stator that dates back to the third century BC.
Cosmas and Damian were doctors and offered their knowledge for free during the Diocletian persecutions. They were martyred through beheading. We hear their names in the Eucharistic Prayer I in Mass today. The two saints became patrons of physicians, surgeons, pharmacists and veterinarians. The church is related to the history of medicine also because Claudius Galen and other physicians regularly lectured at this site in the 2nd and 3rd century.
The former President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People Cardinal Giovanni Cheli is the Cardinal-Priest of the diaconal church which for the time being is a titular church. Cardinal-Deacons become Cardinal-Priests after 10 years.