Sts. Sergius and Bacchus (martyred c. 303)

Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Artist's Narrative:
Sts. Sergius and Bacchus are ancient Christian martyrs who were tortured to death in Syria because they refused to attend sacrifices in honor of Jupiter. Recent attention to early Greek manuscripts has also revealed that they were openly gay men and that they were erastai or lovers. These manuscripts are found in various libraries in Europe and indicate an earlier Christian acceptance of homosexuality.

After their arrest, the two saints were paraded through city streets in women’s clothing, treatment that was meant to humiliate them as officers in the Roman army. They were then separated and each was tortured. Bacchus died first and appeared that night to Sergius who was beginning to lose heart. According to the early manuscripts, Bacchus told Sergius to persevere, that the delights of heaven were greater than any suffering, and that part of their reward would be to be reunited in heaven as lovers.

The inscription at the bottom of the icon is their names in Arabic. The saints are particularly popular throughout the Mediterranean lands and in Latin America and among the Slavs. For nearly a thousand years they were the official patrons of the Byzantine armies and Arab nomads continue to revere them as their special patron saints.

Their feast day is October 7.


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