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Wooden statue of St Cosmas, Spain, 1770-1850

St Cosmas (said to have lived in Cilicia, now southern Turkey, sometime dur-ing 301-400) practised medicine free of charge with his twin St Damian. Here St Cosmas is performing a technique known as uroscopy, in which urine from the patient is observed, smelt and even tasted. Bodily fluids gave clues about the state of the balance of humours and could give the physician ideas for how to treat the patient. The statue is carved from a single piece of wood and painted.

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Glossary: uroscopy

The diagnosis of diseases by visual inspection of urine for blood or pus etc. It dates back to ancient Egypt, India and Babylon. It is considered limited in modern western medical practice, as it can lead to incorrect diagnosis.

Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.

Glossary: patron saint

A saint believed to protect or guide a place or particular group of people.