Thursday, March 08, 2007

Homo Santos: St Sergius and St Bacchus

Saints Sergius and Bacchus were two Roman soldiers and lovers. As John Boswell has shown recently they were invoked repeatedly in the middle ages in the blessing of ceremonies of union for couples of the same sex. They were arrested and humiliated for being Christians. Bacchus was killed first, and then a few days later, Sergius. Their joint "passion" calls them "erastoi" - that is "erotic lovers", and after he died, Bacchus offers himself to Sergius as the prize for Sergius' martyrdom. The female clothes they were forced to wear may have been an early example of gay baiting. (One thing that cannot be found among the saints is a male saint who voluntarily adopted women's clothes). Their cult was one of the most intense in the eastern Mediterranean, with a huge pilgrimage site at Sergiopolis (Rusapha). The passage following, translated from the earliest passion by John Boswell, recounts Sergius' laments after Bacchus' death, and Bacchus appearance to him, promising himself as the prize of martyrdom.

from The Passion of St. Sergius and Bacchus

Meanwhile the blessed Serge, deeply distressed and heartsick over the loss of Bacchus, wept and cried out, "No longer, brother and fellow soldier, will we chant together, 'Behold, how good an pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!' You have been unyoked from me and gone up to heaven, leaving me alone on earth, bereft, without comfort." After he uttered these things, the same night the blessed Bacchus suddenly appeared to him with a face as radiant as an angel's, wearing an officer's uniform, and spoke to him. "Why do you grieve and mourn, brother? If I have been taken up from you in body, I am still with you in the bond of union, chanting and reciting, "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou hast enlarged my heart.' Hurry up then, yourself, brother, through beautiful and perfect confession to pursue and obtain me, when finishing the course. For the crown of justice for me is with you."

Feastday, formerly 7 October; "cults suppressed in 1969" (The Book of Saints, 505).


Today, Same Sex Marriage is one of the most debatable issue of our times. How ironic that Religious Orders are condemning it.

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