I was standing outside my sister’s new house the other day, watching our kids play in the yard, when one of her neighbors walked up to me with a big smile.
“Hey there! I’ve been hoping to catch you at home! Welcome to the neighborhood,” she said.
I smiled and replied, “Thank you, that’s so kind of you. But actually, I don’t live here. I’m an identical twin. My sister is the one who just moved in.”
I called my sister outside and she was glad to meet her new neighbor, but the incident got me thinking about how often being a twin confuses people.
At least once a month, someone I don’t know greets me in a public place, thinking I’m my sister. Each time, I have to make a split second decision: Will I take the time to explain, “Actually, you’ve met my twin, not me,” if I expect it to be a longer conversation? Or if the person is just saying a quick hello, should I stay quiet and pretend to be my sister?
An unusual existence
You might expect that I would always explain I’m a twin, but after decades of this same scenario playing out constantly, sometimes multiple times a day, I’ve found it easier sometimes to pretend to be my twin and just let her know later on that a person matching a certain description thought they spoke to her.
As you can see, being a twin is a bit of an unusual existence! As a twin, I’ve always taken a lot of interest in other twins, so I was intrigued recently to learn that there have been a number of twins over the years who became saints.
If you’re intrigued, too, read on to find out who were the 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!
Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Besides both being saints and martyrs, these twin brothers were also both physicians! Cosmas and Damian were two Arab physicians and early Christian martyrs who practiced medicine and surgery without a fee to help those in need.
Sts. Benedict and Scholastica
The “holy twins” Scholastica and Benedict established religious communities within a few miles from each other. He founded the Order of St. Benedict while she founded the Benedictine order of religious sisters.
Sts. Crispin and Crispinian
Martyred during the reign of the anti-Christian Roman emperor Diocletian, Crispin and Crispinian worked as shoemakers before their deaths, so their feast day was an important festival for artisans in the Middle Ages.
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.
Sts. Medard and Gildard
Not much is known about Medard and Gildard, but Roman Martyrology tells us that these twin brothers were born on the same day, consecrated bishops on the same day, and died on the same day. St. Medard was Bishop of Noyon and St. Gildard was Bishop of Rouen.
Sts. Mark and Marcellian
Mark and Marcellian were twin brothers from a distinguished Roman family who converted to Christianity and became deacons in the early Church. When they refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods, they were arrested and eventually martyred under Emperor Diocletian.
Sts. Gervasius and Protasius
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.
Honorable 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. But I figure we can ask his intercession for twins anyway!