Protocol Number 160/97
November 1, 1997

Cosmas and Damian the Unmercenaries

To the Reverend Clergy, the Presidents of the Parish Councils, Monks and Nuns, the Philoptochos Societies, the Youth and all devout Christians of the Holy Archdiocese of America

Dearly Beloved,

Once again, we approach the threshold of celebrating the two saints of the Church, who are the patrons of the National Philoptochos. Saints Cosmas and Damian are celebrated on November 1st.

Saints Cosmas and Damian were brothers who were raised in a wealthy family in Asia Minor. Endowed with keen intellect, the brothers became inseparable in the common pursuit of the science of medicine. They became known as the, "anargyroi-unmercenaries," for their refusal to accept money for their services. “Anargyros” (-oi in the plural) literally means “one with an aversion for silver” and is the exact opposite of the term “philargyros” –“one who loves silver”. In Sacred Scripture, Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of our Lord Jesus Christ is called a “philargyros”, an apt description, when one remembers that he sold the Lord of Glory for the infamous thirty pieces of silver, the highest coinage of the day, since gold was reserved for kings.

During their earthly ministry, Sts. Cosmas and Damian came to be acknowledged as miracle workers for the remarkable cures they were able to effect. Their desire to show mercy to their fellow man transcended their desire for personal profit and gain, and thereby, their lives became consecrated to God alone. Thus they became Saints. They gave of Christ freely and their lives reflected the Lord’s final commandment to His Disciples when He first commissioned them: “freely ye have received, freely give.” These very words close the Hymn in honor of them:

"Holy Anargyroi and Wonderworkers,
visit us in our infirmities,
freely ye have received,
freely give unto us!”

It is this tradition that the Greek Orthodox Church of America, from the establishment of its first communities, continues in the exercise of philanthropy by our Philoptochos Societies. In each Greek Orthodox Community, following its establishment, there is created a philanthropic society, whose purpose was to assist and comfort those in need. Systematic organization of philanthropy in the Greek Orthodox Church of America began from the establishment of the "Philoptochos Society-Adelphotis" in November, 1931, by the then Archbishop of North and South America, Patriarch Athenagoras of blessed memory.

This anniversary year, let us support and give to our Philoptochos Society with an unprecedented generosity. For this reason, I am asking the parishes of the Archdiocese to aid and support the financial annual collection this year, to be taken up in all our Parishes on Sunday, November 2nd. It is also providential that His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch will be with us in the United States. We feel confident that he will find great spiritual satisfaction with the philanthropic accomplishments of our beloved Philoptochos Society.

I paternally urge all the faithful, especially this year, to marshal all your energies, with a renewed spirit and faith in God, and contribute as never before to the work of Philoptochos.

Knowing that you will heed the call of your Church, I remain,

With much paternal love in the Lord,

[ signed: † Archbishop Spyridon ]

Archbishop of America

[ November 1, 1997 ]