If you’re intrigued, read on to find out who were saints that also happened to be twins, setting a high bar for twins everywhere. I wonder how often these twins were mistaken for each other like my sister and I are. If you’re a twin, or the parent of twins, you might want to ask for these saints’ intercession!
1. STS. COSMAS AND DAMIAN
Saints Cosmas and Damian were twins born to Christian parents in Arabia, in the third century. They lived in the region around the border between modern day Turkey and Syria. They were physicians who were renowned for their skill as well as their refusal to charge for their services. They practiced medicine and surgery without a fee to help those in need. Saints Cosmas and Damian are the last two men mentioned in the canon of the Mass before the Pater Noster. They suffered martyrdom under Diocletian in the year 303 along with their three other brothers Anthimus, Leontius, and Euprepius. Sts. Cosmas and Damian are patrons of physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, barbers and twins.
Their feast day is September 26.
2. STS. BENEDICT AND SCHOLASTICA
The “holy twins” Scholastica and Benedict established religious communities within a few miles from each other. St. Benedict founded the Order of St. Benedict while St. Scholastica founded the Benedictine order of religious sisters. They died in 543 only forty days apart and both of them were buried at Monte Cassino in the oratory dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The Benedictine Spirituality is based upon the Gospel of Christ and is lived in witness to this Good News in peace and simplicity. It strives to create surroundings permeated by Christian vision and an attitude of openness to the Spirit. Ora et Labora is the Benedictine motto that comes from the exhortation of St. Benedict to do everything that in all things God may be glorified. Prayer and work are two important facets of life being as Scholasticans and Benedictines. We are reminded to live a life that is marked by balance of prayer and work. Saint Scholastica’s feast day is on February 10th and Saint Benedict’s is on March 21st.
3. STS. CRISPIN AND CRISPINIAN
It is said that they were brothers from a noble Roman family and that they travelled to Soissons, where they made many converts while supporting themselves by shoemaking so their feast day was an important festival for artisans in the Middle Ages. The emperor Maximian condemned them to death, but they escaped from the ordeals imposed by his prefect Rictiovarus, and at last Maximian had them beheaded. Their remains were buried at Soissons but afterward moved, partly to Osnabrück, Ger., and partly to the chapel of San Lorenzo in Rome. They also labored in northern France in the city of Siossons. They were martyred together under the Diocletian persecution during the reign of the anti-Christian Roman emperor Diocletian in 285. Famously, the Battle of Agincourt was fought on their feast day, leading to the legendary “St. Crispin’s Day Speech” in Shakespeare’s Henry V. Their feast day is October 25.
4. STS. MEDARD AND GILDARD (456-545)
Not much is known about Medard and Gildard, but the Roman Martyrology states of St Medard and his twin brother, St Gildard that “At Soissons, in France, the birthday of St Medard, Bishop of Novon, whose life and precious death are illustrated by glorious miracles – at Rouen, St Gildard, Bishop, twin brother of St Medard, who was born with his brother on the same day, Consecrated Bishops at the same time and being taken away from this life, also on the same day, they entered Heaven together!” St. Medard was Bishop of Noyon and St. Gildard was Bishop of Rouen. Their memories are most loving ones in northern France. Saint Medard began the custom of crowning each year as the Rose Queen the most virtuous and holy young Catholic girl of his diocese. If it rains on the feast of Saint Medard, the loving Catholic peasants of northern France take it as a sign that it will rain for forty days more. Their feast day is on June 8.
5. STS. MARK AND MARCELLIAN
Twin Saints Mark and Saint Marcellian were from distinguished family, living in Rome with their wives and children. They converted to Christianity and became Deacons of the Church of Rome in the early Church. When they refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, they were arrested. They converted their guards and escaped but were soon recaptured. They were eventually martyred in Rome under the persecution of Emperor Diocletian.
The feast of saints Mark and Marcellian is June 18.
6. STS. GERVASIUS (Gervase) AND PROTASIUS (Protase)
These twin brothers came from a pretty extraordinary family. Their father, Vitalis, and mother, Valeria, were also martyrs for their Christian faith in the early years of Christianity. Gervase and Protase are considered the protomartyrs of Milan having shed their blood for Christ in the year 165. However, their mother, Valeria, is believed to have been martyred before them in Milan. Their father, Vitalis, was also martyred, not in Milan, but in Ravenna. Their relics were miraculously discovered through a dream given to Bishop of Milan, Saint Ambrose, in 386. Saint Augustine, as an eye witness, wrote in his Confessions about the discovery of the relics and the miracles that accompanied their transfer to the cathedral. They are the patron saints of Milan and of haymakers and are invoked for the discovery of thieves. Their feast day is on June 19
Special Mention: St. Thomas the Apostle is known as “Dydimus,” meaning “twin,” but we don’t know who his twin was or whether he actually had a twin at all. The reasons for the nickname are unclear. Nonetheless, we can ask his intercession for twins!
Does anyone know of other canonized twins?