Feast Day of the Holy Unmercenaries
Cosmas and Damian

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Day and Afternoon Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America,

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In His undying love for humankind, our gracious God condescended to take on human flesh, offering Himself up for the world so that we might be granted eternal life. This indescribable act of mercy and humility constitutes a tremendous challenge to all of us human beings to respond accordingly to the love of our Creator. In the face of God’s love, we are reminded of this challenge by the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and You shall love your neighbor as yourself (cf. Mt. 22:37-39). These two commandments, upon which hang all the law and the prophets (Mt. 22:40), speak to the central importance of the exercising of philanthropy in the Christian life.

In her timeless offering of example, our Holy Orthodox Church celebrates on November 1 the Feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian, presenting to us two remarkable brothers—physicians of Asia Minor. Known as the Holy Unmercenaries, Sts. Cosmas and Damian gave generously of their time and talents, healing the sick, assisting the ill, offering help to the needy, and cultivating their love of God and neighbor with the fullness of heart, soul, and mind through continuous acts of care and affection.

Today, the enduring legacy of Sts. Cosmas and Damian reminds us that the offering of philanthropy is a magnificent task that extends even beyond our own geographical and political boundaries. As Orthodox Christians living in the United States, we are blessed with the precious gift of a remarkable prosperity, and we have the particular obligation to share the fruits of such a blessing from God with those who live under conditions of need. For over seventy years, the Ladies Philoptochos Society of our Archdiocese has endeavored to effect ministries of philanthropic aid and assistance, as women from parishes across our nation freely give of their time and talents in service to God and neighbor. In this service, the National Philoptochos has resolved each year to render special aid to our beloved Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters living in Constantinople by committing funds to the nursing homes, hospitals, and other philanthropic institutions of our Ecumenical Patriarchate. Therefore, in commemoration of the inspiring example of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, on Sunday, November 3, a special tray will be passed in parishes throughout our country to support the National Philoptochos Patriarchate Fund and the needs of the beloved and most venerable Greek Orthodox community of Constantinople.

Through your contributions to this fund, the lives of many will be enhanced, the warmth of God’s love will be extended, and the joy that comes through the rendering of service to our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world will be realized in the hearts, minds, and souls of us all. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, and may we always follow the example of His Saints in keeping our hearts open to His abundant mercy and saving love. 

With paternal love in Christ,

Archbishop of America

Archive: Archbishop Demetrios' Encyclicals