Benvenuti / Welcome to
Benvenuti / Welcome to
The town of Santi Cosma e Damiano is situated on a hillside at a height of 181 metres above sea level, close to the town of Castelforte.
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© LM Shapcott 2009 -
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Its name is derived from the Saints Cosmas and Damian, who were twin brothers who practised the art of healing and are said to have been miracle workers. They led many to the Christian faith and became martyrs after being tortured and beheaded during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. The saints are also the patrons of the town.
The town was first documented in 830 AD. A fortress was built to guard the local people from incursions by Saracens invaders. Locally there is an area known as Vattaglia, which in the local dialect means "battle", named after the Battle of the Garigliano of 915, between the forces of the Christian League, a coalition of Pope John X and loyal Christian princes from southern Italy, against the Saracens.
Following the victory of the Christian League the area became part of the Duchy of Gaeta, before being passed to the monks of Montecassino, led by Abbot Desiderius, in 1078. Finally it became incorporated into the Kingdom of Naples.
In 1798/1799, during Napoleon’s French invasion the local inhabitants of this area fought alongside the notorious brigand, Fra Diavolo to resist the assalt, however the town eventually fell to the French on Easter Day of 1799.
Other churches include:
The small chiesetta di San Luca, once owned by the Viccari family, it was then donated to the Trinitarian nuns.
The 10th century Chiesa di San Martino (dedicated to San Giovanni Battista).
The ruined church of Santa Maria del Soccorso.
The community of Santi Cosma e Damiano also includes the four districts of Cerri Aprano, Grunovo, San Lorenzo and Ventosa which contain several small villages and hamlets.
The territory was under German occupation in the command of the XIV Panzerkorps.
For many months the local people were subjected to heavy bombing raids by the Allied forces, which resulted in numerous civilian deaths and casualties, and almost the total destruction of the town and surrounding area. Many local citizens fled to hide in the hills.
The town was was the scene of bitter and bloody fighting as the Allies fought to breach the German defences, however after a prolonged battle the French Expeditionary Corps finally succeeded in breaking through, thereby opening up the way to Rome.
For its great sacrifice, bravery and patriotism the town and its people, the Sancosmesi, were later awarded the Medaglia d’Oro al Valor Civile.
The 17th century church of SS Cosma e Damiano was destroyed during the bombing A new modern church was constructed after the war with a tall square bell tower.
"A town located in a key position, during the Second World War was in the middle of opposing sides, suffering all kinds of violence by German troops and the Moroccans and a large amount of bombing by the Allied Forces, which caused numerous civilian casualties and the almost total destruction of the town. The survivors were forced to find refuge in various places, fearlessly resisted the horrors and disasters of war, providing an admirable courage and patriotism. "1943/1944
A number of people from Santi Cosma e Damiano emigrated to Cortland, New York in the USA.