Last Sunday morning I attended the 87th Annual Festival for the Italian Healing Saints Cosmas and Damian in East Cambridge. At 8:30 A.M. the procession of the Saints began at the Society of Cosmas and Damian Chapel at 17 Porter Street in East Cambridge.
Accompanied by the St. Alfio and North End Marching Bands the procession advanced along Porter and Harding Streets to Cambridge Street and continued for several blocks to St. Francis of Assisi Church on the corner of Cambridge and Sciarappa Streets for a 9:30 A.M. high mass.
The festive and reverent high mass was celebrated by Bishop Peter Uglietto, Monsignor Anthony Spinosa, Father Walter Carriero, and Father Jim Darcy. Many of the hymns were sung in Italian, including the Canto Al Vangelo and the Saints Cosmas and Damian Hymn. A tapestry venerating the Saints was beautifully displayed near the Altar.
After the high mass the procession returned to an outdoor shrine for the Saints in Gaeta Square at the intersection of Warren and Porter Streets.
Cosmas and Damian were physicians in Cicilia in the third century. They were raised in the Christian faith at a time when it was death to profess Christianity. They were captured and suffered three tortures to renounce their faith. They miraculously escaped injury from their tortures but were sentenced to decapitation. They were executed on September 27 in the year 287 as martyrs to the Christian faith. Many miracles have been attributed to prayers of intercession to the Healing Saints Cosmas and Damian, and they have long been the patron saints of Gaeta in the Latina province of the Lazio region of Italy.1
Immigrants from Gaeta who settled in East Cambridge brought the festival tradition to this country and celebrated the first Cosmas and Damian Festival in 1927. The Festival has been held annually every year since in September.2
For me it was a personal journey and a great honor to celebrate mass at the church where my mother attended weekly and was raised in the Catholic faith. During her youth she attended the annual Saints Cosmas and Damian Festivals and remembered them with great fondness throughout her life.
For more information about the Saints and about the Cosmas and Damian Society of Cambridge and Somerville please visit the Society's website at http://www.cosmas-and-damian.org/index.html.
1“The Lives of Saints Cosmas and Damian,” The Saint's Story (http://www.cosmas-and-damian.org/saint_story.html: 12 September 2013).
2“The Society,” The Society (http://www.cosmas-and-damian.org/our_society.html: 12 September 2013).