Saints Sergius & Bacchus

Butlerís Lives of the Saints Vol. IV, p. 50 (1956)

"Sergius and Bacchus, Saints, two fourth century martyrs, according to legend, officers of the Roman Army on the Syrian frontier. On their refusal to sacrifice to Jupiter, they were sent to Rosata in Mesopotamia, where they were scourged so severely that Bacchus died. Sergius later was beheaded. The church over Sergiusí grave was restored 431, and shortly afterwards, Rosata became the seat of a bishropic; it was renamed Sergiopolis. Sergius and Baccus became protectors of the Byzantine Army. Their feast day is October 7."

The martyrdom, which to this time has had certain details left out, is translated by John Boswell, from ancient documents:

Immediately he ordered their belts cut off, their tunics and all other military garb removed. Gold torguates were taken from around their necks and womenís clothing placed on them. Thus they were to be paraded through the middle of the city to the palace, bearing heavy chains around their necks. The point of putting womenís clothes on them was to degrade them as high ranking soldiers.. As they were paraded through the city streets they chanted together: Yea , though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil Lord, because denying ungodliness and worldly lust we have put off the form of the old man and we, naked, rejoice in you, because you have clothed us with the garment of salvation. You have covered us with the robe of righteousness. You have decked us as brides with womenís gowns, and have joined us one to another for you, through our faithfulness.

Sergius and Bacchus are subject to a series of torments, typical of the time. Bacchus finally dies. Sergius waivers in his faith, because Bacchus has been taken from him.

He weeps and cries out, Oh my other half, never will we sing together the hymns and songs we used to sing.. Unyoked from me, you have left me here on earth, lonely and disconsolate. Then Bacchus appears to him, the biographer says, "radiantly and beautiful". Why do you morn and grieve, beloved? I have been taken from you bodily, but in the bond of our love, I am with you still. Hurry now so that through your good and perfect fidelity, you may be worthy to earn me as the reward of the race. For my crown of justice is you.

At this point it becomes a very remarkable story. No other early martyr story emphasizes the love between two human beings in this way. They are martyred for confessing the name of Christ. This narrative privileges love between two people for their Christian faith. In the scores of Christian liturgies down through the centuries that bless same sex unions, they are invoked as the archetype, the model for same sex relationships.