THE MIRACLE OF THE BLACK LEG: EASTERN NEGLECT OF WESTERN ADDITION TO THE HAGIOGRAPHY OF SAINTS COSMAS AND DAMIAN
The Christian miracle tales strongly support the identification of Sts. Cosmas and Damian as doctors. The most famous of the saints’ posthumous miracles, is that of the Black Leg. The main source of this story is the Golden Legend by Jacobus da Varagine, collection of fanciful hagiographies compiled in the 13th century. Saints Cosmas and Damian miraculously transplanted the black leg of the Ethiopian man onto the white body of the verger with “cancerous” leg. Saints appeared to the patient in a dream, amputated his diseased leg and replaced it with the leg of a recently died man. This dramatic cure was attractive for many western artists. The iconography of this miracle was depicted for the first time in a Florentine panel of ca.1370. The color of the leg later attracted special attention. Since the 1990’s the Miracle of the Black Leg, presented in a (neo) Byzantine style, appeared in Greece. The miracle of Holy Unmercenaries has no proper historical foundation in the Books of the lives of the Saints in the Orthodox Churches. Action focused on replacement of the affected leg with one from cadaveric donor was unknown to the eastern Christianity. Exploration of available orthodox hagiographical sources related to the healing powers of Sts. Cosmas and Damian showed remarkable neglect of that miracle. Some contemporary Greek authors find appropriate to disregard it.
Key words: Miracle of the Black Leg; Sts. Cosmas and Damian; Greece