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E04937: Hymn in honour of *Cosmas and Damianus (brothers, physician martyrs of Syria, S00385) composed in Latin in Spain, possibly in the 7th c.

online resource
posted on 2018-02-06, 00:00 authored by mszada
Hymnodia Hispanica, Hymn 104


At the beginning the people of God are encouraged to hear the story of the miraculous power of Saints Cosmas and Damianus (strophes 1–2). Then the hymn praises their outstanding capability to heal all ailments 'with word and touch' (strophes 3–4). Their power is so strong that it heals not only the part of the body indicated by a sick person looking for their help, but restores the whole body (strophes 5–6). Diseases disappear because the saints conquer demons causing them (strophe 7). Strophe 8 is a doxology (the praise of God in the Trinity).

Text: Castro Sánchez 2010, 385-386. Summary: M. Szada.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Kosmas and Damianos, brothers, physician martyrs of Syria : S00385

Saint Name in Source

Cosmas et Damianus

Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Hymns Literary - Poems


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Miracles

Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified Other lay individuals/ people


This hymn in honour of Cosmas and Damianus is written in quantitative trochaic septenarii of good quality, which led Pérez de Urbel (1926, 231) to argue for an early date of composition. He also tentatively proposed Ildefonsus of Toledo as its author, because we know from the Life of Ildefonsus, penned in the 8th century by Cixila, that Ildefonsus was an abba in the church of saints Cosmas and Damian in Agali in the vicinity of Toledo (Patrologia Latina 96, 43). Szövérffy (1971, 36) also dated the hymn to the 7th century, while Diaz (1958: 428) thought that it is from 8th century. The hymn is preserved in three manuscripts: Psalmi Cantica et Hymni, Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 10001 (9th/11th c.); Alia Officia Toletana, London, British Library, Add. 30845 (10th/11th c.); and Psalmi, Cantica et Hymni, London, British Library, 30851 (11th c.). Pérez de Urbel's method of dating hymns: Josef Pérez de Urbel's method is based on two preliminary assumptions: a) that the bulk of the Hispanic liturgy was composed in the 7th century, the 'golden age' of the Hispanic Church, and that important intellectual figures of this period (Braulio of Saragossa, Isidore of Seville, Eugenius of Toledo, et al.) participated in its creation; b) that the liturgy was, nevertheless, still developing and changing in the period after the Arab invasion, and therefore, many texts which we find in 9th, 10th, and 11th century liturgical manuscripts might be of more recent date. Some hymns can be dated to the period after 711, for instance if they mention 'hagaric oppression' or if they are in honour of saints whose cult was imported later to Spain (they do not feature in earlier literary and epigraphic evidence, nor are attested in the oldest liturgical book from Hispania, the Orationale Visigothicum). It is more difficult to identify the hymns which are certainly from before 711. To this group Pérez de Urbell usually attributed hymns with a probable attribution to an author from the 7th century (like Braulio of Saragossa or Quiricius of Barcelona), and those which were stylistically close to the poetry of Eugenius of Toledo from the 7th century. Pérez de Urbell then compared two groups of the hymns and noticed the following: a) late hymns contain 'barbarisms' and solecisms, while early ones are written in correct classical Latin; b) late hymns are composed in rhythmic metres, early ones are frequently in the correct classical metres; that, up until the end of the 7th century, people still could compose in e.g. hexameters is confirmed by epigraphical evidence; these metric inscriptions disappear from the 8th century onwards; the 8th and 9th century authors who make attempts at writing in classical (quantitative) metres, always make mistakes; c) some rhythmical poetry could nevertheless be early; d) although both early and late hymns sometimes have rhymes, perfect rhymes occur only in late hymns. In the absence of any certain indications for dating, Pérez de Urbell assumed that a hymn is early if at least two requirements were met: the Latin is 'correct' and there are no perfect rhymes. He also considered early every hymn composed in a quantitative metre.


The feast of Cosmas and Damianus was celebrated in the Spanish Church in the 7th century on 22 October: see the prayers in the Orationale Visigothicum (E05652). The Liber Ordinum, the liturgical book of rites performed by a priest (either a bishop or a presbyter) of the Old Hispanic Rite, which may reflect usage already established in the 7th century, preserves an interesting ritual of confecting oil to be used to anoint the sick on the feast, see E###.


Edition: Castro Sánchez, J., Hymnodia hispanica (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 167; Turnhout: Brepols, 2010). Castro Sánchez, J., Hymnodia hispánica (Corpus Christianorum in Translation 19; Turnhout: Brepols, 2014). Spanish translation. Further reading: Diaz y Diaz, M.C., "El latin medieval español," in: Actas del Primer Congreso Español де Estudios Clásicos (Madrid: Congreso Español de Estudios Clásicos, 1958), 559-579. Pérez de Urbel, J., "Origen de los himnos mozárabes," Bulletin Hispanique 28 (1926), 5-21, 113-139, 209-245, 305-320. Szövérffy, J., Iberian Latin Hymnody: Survey and Problems (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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