Medical Saints: Cosmas and Damian in a Postmodern World

Overview

Cosmas and Damian were martyred around the year 300 A.D. in what is now Syria. Called the Anargyroi ("without silver") because they charged no fees, they became patrons of medicine, surgery, and pharmacy and the focus of cults ranging across Europe. They were popular in Byzantine and Orthodox traditions and their shrines are numerous in Eastern Europe, southern Italy, and Sicily. The Medici family of Florence viewed the "santi medici" as patrons, and their deeds were illustrated by great Renaissance artists. In ...

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Medical Saints: Cosmas and Damian in a Postmodern World

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Overview

Cosmas and Damian were martyred around the year 300 A.D. in what is now Syria. Called the Anargyroi ("without silver") because they charged no fees, they became patrons of medicine, surgery, and pharmacy and the focus of cults ranging across Europe. They were popular in Byzantine and Orthodox traditions and their shrines are numerous in Eastern Europe, southern Italy, and Sicily. The Medici family of Florence viewed the "santi medici" as patrons, and their deeds were illustrated by great Renaissance artists. In medical literature they are now revered as patrons of transplantation.

Jacalyn Duffin offers a profound exploration of illness and healing experiences in contemporary society through the veneration of the twin doctors Saints Cosmas and Damian. She also relates a personal journey, from her role as a hematologist who unexpectedly came to serve as an expert witness in the Church's evaluation of a miracle to her research as a historican on the origins, meaning, and functions of saints.

Duffin's research, which includes interviews with devotees in both North America and Europe, focuses on how people have taken the saints with them as they moved both within Italy and beyond. She shows that veneration of Cosmas and Damian has spread beyond immigrant traditions to fill important functions in healthcare and healing. Duffin's conclusions provide essential insights into medical history, sociology, anthropology, and popular religion, as well as the current medical debate over spiritual healing. Medical Saints draws on medical history and Roman Catholic traditions, but extends to universal observations about the behaviors of sick people and the formal responses to individual illness from collectivities in religion, medicine, and history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jacalyn Duffin has drawn on her insight as historian and as physician to craft an engrossing exploration of the enduring place of medical saints, pilgrimage, and miracles in the modern world. A welcome scholarly study of faith, healing, and the human condition and a flat-out page turner."—John Harley Warner, Avalon Professor of the History of Medicine, Yale University

"After confirming a diagnosis of fatal leukemia for a patient who went on to make a full recovery, Dr. Jacalyn Duffin found that her report on the case had been entered in support of the cause to make Mère Marguerite d'Youville Canada's first Catholic saint. Duffin, who describes herself as an atheist, set off on a decades-long pilgrimage to find out more. This book is a passionate, sympathetic, and open-eyed account of her journey and what she discovered about the church and humanity. It is a fascinating revelation, showing not only that religion supports medicine while invoking hope and agency, but how little the medical community knows about this side of the lives of ordinary people. Recommended for believer and unbeliever alike."—Harold J. Cook, John F. Nickoll Professor of History, Brown University

"Dr. Duffin spins a lively tale of her personal involvement with a miraculous cure that led to the canonization of a saint, and her studies of medical miracles. As an academic physician and a medical historian, she sensitively and intelligently reflects on the difficulty doctors have with the idea of miracles but how patients can embrace both medical science and the power of prayer to achieve healing."—Jock Murray, Professor Emeritus, Neurology and Medical Humanities, Dalhousie University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199743179
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/31/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 772,730
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacalyn Duffin is Professor in the Hannah Chair of the History of Medicine at Queen's University in Kingston, where she has taught in medicine, philosophy, history, and law for more than twenty years. She has served as President of both the American Association for the History of Medicine and the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine. The author of seven other books and many research articles, she holds a number of awards and honours for research, writing, service, and teaching. Her most recent book is an analysis of the medical aspects of canonization, Medical Miracles; Doctors, Saints, and Healing, 1588-1999, OUP 2009.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Prologue
Acknowledgements
Chapter One: Medical Miracle
Chapter Two: Doctor Twins: from Cyrrhus to Toronto
Chapter Three: Talking to Pilgrims in the New World
Chapter Four: Chasing Saints in the Old World
Chapter Five: Miracles, Medicine, and MEDLINE
Chapter Six: Conclusion: Home to the Clinic
Epilogue
Tables
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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