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Enamel plaque depicting St Cosmas anointing the head of a patient, France, 1525-1575

Many Christians have long believed that the saints are able to plead with God on their behalf and that particular saints can give protection against specific illnesses. This plaque shows St Cosmas anointing a sick person and was made by the French artist Léonard Limosin (c. 1505-c. 1575). St Cosmas (d. circa 303 CE) was a Christian martyr who with his twin St Damian practised the art of healing. They received no payment. The twins are often represented in paintings; most famously they are shown miraculously giving a white Christian man who has lost his leg a new black one from a Moor. The Moors were Muslim people from North Africa. St Cosmas and St Damian are the patron saints of physicians, surgeons, druggists and dentists.

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Glossary: patron saint

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

Glossary: plaque

An ornamental tablet of metal, porcelain etc that depicts a person, scene or inscription. Often fixed to a building in commemoration of a person or notable historical occurence.