Sergius and Bacchus

Every Valentine’s day I think about the saints Sergius and Bacchus. Their feast is actually October 7th but the general feeling of the day reminds me of their story, one that is unique in martyrology:

According to the Greek text The Passion of Sergius and Bachus, Sergius and Bacchus were Roman citizens and high-ranking officers of the Roman Army but their conversion to Christianity was found out when they attempted to avoid accompanying a Roman official into a pagan temple. They refused to make sacrifices to Jupiter and were publicly humiliated by being chained, dressed in women’s clothing and paraded around town. Bacchus was beaten to death, but the next day his spirit appeared to Sergius and encouraged him to remain strong so they could be together forever. Over the coming days, Sergius was brutally tortured and executed, and his death was marked by miraculous happenings.

Sergius and Bacchus’s relationship can be understood as having a romantic dimension, and the oldest text of their martyrology describes them as erastai, which can be translated as “lovers.” Some scholars believe that the two were even united in a rite known as adelphopoiesis (brother-making), a lost remnant some scholars believe indicates early Christianity’s more tolerant views of homosexuality.

Don’t forget them.

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