A verger's dream: Saints Cosmas and Damian performing a miraculous cure by transplantation of a leg. Oil painting attributed to the Master of Los Balbases, ca. 1495.
Saints Cosmas and Damian were early Christian martyrs who, according to legend, practiced medicine without payment and therefore were represented to the public as medical ideals. In this Spanish altarpiece, the saints appear in a vision, dressed in the full finery of academic doctors as they perform the miracle of transplanting a leg. The vision is described in a book of 1275 by Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda aurea (The golden legend). The vision was received in the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, in Rome, by a verger who had ...