Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sergius and Bacchus: Martyrs, Saints, Lovers

Today is the feast of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus.

Following is the description of these two saints that accompanies Robert Lentz’s 1994 portrait of them (pictured at right) and distributed by


Sts. Sergius and Bacchus were 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 were found in various libraries in Europe, and indicate an earlier Christian attitude toward homosexuality.

After their arrest, the two men 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 re-united in heaven as lovers.

The feast of these saints is October 7. The inscription at the bottom of the icon is their names in Arabic. The saints are particularly popular throughout the Mediterranean lands, 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.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
The Archangel Michael as Gay Icon
St. Michael the Archangel: Perspectives and Portraits
The Allure of St. Sebastian
St. Francis of Assisi: Dancer, Rebel, Archetype
Mary of Magdala
The Inherent Sensuality of Roman Catholicism
Officially Homophobic, Intensely Homoerotic
Song of Songs: The Bible’s Gay Love Poem
“More Lovely Than the Dawn”: God as Divine Lover
Lover of Us All
It Happens All the Time in Heaven

Recommended Off-site Links:
Feast Day of Gay Saints, October 7 - Jayden Cameron (Gay Mystic, October 7, 2009).
Sergius & Bacchus - and Me - Terence Weldon (Queering the Church, October 8, 2009).
Sergius and Bacchus: A Pair of Gay Saints - Kittredge Cherry (, October 7, 2009).

Image 1: Robert Lentz.
Image 2: Ray Avito.

1 comment:

Terence Weldon said...

Thanks for this, Michael. I would have liked to write something myself, but I was out of town all week - and lacked the foresight to post in advance.

So I'm glad you did.