Born: third century
FEast: Oct. 7th
soldiers, LGBTQ+ Community
Sts. Sergius + Bacchus
Many historical references to Sts. Sergius and Bacchus conflict or contain anachronisms, and so we cannot, unfortunately, gain a clear picture of when the two lived or under the reign of which emperor they were killed. However, the Tradition honoring the two is very strong and has a long history.
The story goes that the two were soldiers in the Roman army, positioned in what is now Syria. Which country they were from is also debated, as well as whether or not they became high-ranking officials in the army. Regardless, they lived as Christians secretly until a day when they avoided entering a Roman temple with the rest of the army and refused to make sacrifices. They were paraded around town in women's clothing, chained together, and publicly humiliated.
It is said that they were then sent to a military commander in Mesopotamia for further punishment. Despite Sergius being an old friend of the commander, they were sentenced to be beaten severely until they would renounce their faith. They would not, and Bacchus died from his injuries.
Though Sergius survived, he was subjected to more tortures. The most famous story of the two describes Bacchus appearing to Sergius the next day as a ghost, encouraging him to keep the faith and reminding him they would at least be together forever in Heaven soon.
Sergius was then either given shoes with nails protruding from them or had boards nailed directly onto his feet, on which he was made to walk 18 miles to his execution. He was then beheaded in Resafa, Syria, and the legend goes that monks recovered Bacchus' body and buried them together there.
Miracles were known to happen at the spot soon after, and a bishop built a church there dedicated to them. Throughout the fifth century, dedication to the pair grew and spread.
Historians also disagree on the nature of the pair's relationship, with some suggesting they had engaged in a type of early Christian union between men that blessed them in a ceremony to become "brothers". Though this practice is well-documented, the exact nature of it is still unknown, as well as the understanding of whether Sergius and Bacchus were involved in it. Despite these questions, the pair, since they are famous for always being together, have become known as patrons of the LGBTQ+ community.
Please help guide the church as she learns to better understand, love, aid, and elevate its members of the LGBtQ+ community. Help her in reparations for past wrongs, in deconstructing harmful and false societal ideas, and in lifting these people up the way that Jesus would since the rest of the world continues to cast them out.
Sergius and Bacchus understood fear, pain, torture, and humiliation so well. Everyone around them - even old friends, told them that they were wrong, and could not understand them. Today, they still do, though for different reasons, and I wanted those emotions expressed in this icon.