Martyr en Syrie, avec son compagnon Bacchus (✝ v. 300)
On vénérait leur tombe à Rosafa, 200 kms à l'est d'Alep en Syrie, dès la fin du 3ème ou du début du 4ème siècle. Serge aurait été un officier supérieur romain, commandant avec son collègue Bacchus une troupe d'élite composée de Barbares, appelée la Schola Gentilium. Ils furent tous deux dénoncés comme chrétiens et confessèrent courageusement leur foi. Bacchus meurt sous la flagellation; Serge, après divers tourments dont il sort indemne, est finalement décapité. Il ne reste que quelques ruines de ce qui fut un centre de pèlerinage d'une richesse inouïe. Au 6ème siècle, on bâtit même une muraille de trois mètres d'épaisseur entourant un rectangle de 500 mètres sur 100 mètres pour protéger des voleurs les dons que faisaient les pèlerins.
L'église des Ukrainiens à Rome, place de la Madonna dei Monti, leur est dédiée(Parrocchia Sergio e Bacco degli Ucraini, en italien)
À Rosafa en Euphratésie de Syrie, au IIIe ou IVe siècle, les saints Serge et Bacchus, martyrs.
Martyr en Syrie, avec son compagnon Serge (✝ v. 300)
On vénérait leur tombe à 200 kms à l'est d'Alep en Syrie, dès la fin du IIIe ou du début du IVe siècle. Serge aurait été un officier supérieur romain, commandant avec son collègue Bacchus une troupe d'élite composée de Barbares, appelée la Schola Gentilium. Ils furent tous deux dénoncés comme chrétiens et confessèrent courageusement leur foi. Bacchus meurt sous la flagellation; Serge, après divers tourments dont il sort indemne, est finalement décapité. Il ne reste que quelques ruines de ce qui fut un centre de pèlerinage d'une richesse inouïe. Au VIe siècle, on bâtit même une muraille de trois mètres d'épaisseur entourant un rectangle de 500 mètres sur 100 mètres pour protéger des voleurs les dons que faisaient les pèlerins.
L'église des Ukrainiens à Rome, place de la Madonna dei Monti, leur est dédiée(Parrocchia Sergio e Bacco degli Ucraini, en italien)
À Rosafa en Euphratésie de Syrie, au IIIe ou IVe siècle, les saints Serge et Bacchus, martyrs.
Église Santi Sergio e Bacco degli Ucraini,
Saints Serge et Bacchus (+300)
Fêté le 07 octobre
Martyrs. On vénérait leur tombe à 200 kilomètres à l’est d’Alep en Syrie, dès la fin du 3ème ou au début du 4ème siècle. Serge aurait été un officier supérieur romain, commandant, avec son collègue Bacchus, une troupe d’élite composée de Barbares, appelée la Schola Gentilium. Ils furent tous deux dénoncés comme chrétiens et confessèrent courageusement leur foi. Bacchus meurt sous la flagellation ; Serge, après divers tourments dont il sort indemne, est finalement décapité. Il ne reste que quelques ruines de ce qui fut un centre de pèlerinage d’une richesse inouïe. Au 6ème siècle, on bâtit même une muraille de trois mètres d’épaisseur entourant un rectangle de 500 mètres sur 100 mètres pour protéger des voleurs les dons que faisaient les pèlerins.
Aurais-tu peur de la mort ? – Non, car la mort, c’est la vie qui s’ouvre enfin, en toute vérité, dans la lumière divine et pour toujours.
Frise qui représente le martyre de Bacchus, flagellé, et de Serge, conduit à la décapitation,
Église de Porrain, Yonne, France.
Photographie de François GOGLINS
Saint Serge et Saint Bacque ou Bacchus
Ils étaient tous deux chevaliers romains vers le 4ème siècle. En même temps, ils étaient secrétaires d’État de l’empereur Maximien.
Un jour, Maximien était en Syrie et voulait sacrifier aux idoles dans la ville d’Augusta. Il avait ordonné à tous ses soldats d’assister à la cérémonie. mais il n’y vit ni Serge ni Bacque. Voulant savoir pourquoi ils étaient absents, il les fit chercher et ceux-ci lui dirent qu’ils n’avaient pas participé au sacrifice parce qu’ils étaient chrétiens. D’autres disent que ce sont des collègues qui les auraient dénoncés.
Maximien les dégrada sur le champs. Puis il les fit revêtir d’habits de femme et charger de colliers de fer. Il les fit promener ainsi dans la ville pour être la risée de tous.
Ensuite, ils furent ramenés vers l’empereur qui les exhorta à renoncer à leur foi. Mais comme il n’arrivait pas à ses fins, il les envoya au préfet de l’Orient : Antiochus, qui passait pour être un homme cruel.
Il espérait que Serge et Bacque changeraient d’avis à la suite des fatigues de la route, des affronts qu’ils recevraient, à l’idée même d’être livrés à un si cruel Préfet. De plus, l’humiliation était à son comble, sachant qu’ils étaient livrés à un homme qu'ils avaient autrefois commandé.
Mais ils ne changèrent pas d’avis.
Arrivés sur les lieux, Antiochus essaya de les persuader de sacrifier aux idoles. Comme il n’y parvenait pas, il condamna Bacque à être fouetté par quatre bourreaux. Cela fut si terrible que Bacque mourut pendant qu’on le fouettait.
La nuit suivante, il apparut à Serge pour l’encourager à endurer les supplices qu’on allait lui infliger de manière à ce qu’ils soient ensemble pour le même triomphe.
Antiochus étant obligé d’aller dans une ville non loin d’Augusta, il fit chausser Serge avec des chaussures dont les semelles étaient garnies de clous en dedans. Il le contraignit de courir devant son chariot jusqu’à la ville voisine. (15 km jusqu’à Tetrapyrgya, aujourd’hui Qseyras-Sêlé)
Le lendemain matin, Serge fut guéri de ses blessures grâce à un ange qui lui apparut. Le Préfet croyant qu’il s’agissait là de magie, lui fit endurer une seconde fois le supplice.
Puis, désespérant de pouvoir lui faire changer d’avis, il le condamna à être décapité à Rosafa. (qui devint Sergiopolis)
Ce fut le 7 octobre de l’an 300.
Serge fut le premier Saint à qui on dédia une Basilique dans un lieu qui ne fut pas son tombeau. (Eïta en Syrie en 354) Puis la Syrie se couvrit d’églises sous le vocable de Saint Serge. Bacque ou Bacchus ne jouira pas de la même popularité, sans doute à cause de son nom qui rappelle un dieu païen.
Justinien construisit une église Saint Serge et Saint Bacchus à Constantinople. Elle est, aujourd’hui transformée en mosquée.
Le culte de Saints Serge et Bacque parvint en Gaule vers le 7ème siècle.
Grégoire de Tours raconte que deux hommes avaient volé des poulets réservés à l’église Saint Serge à Rosafa. Il les firent cuire, mais quand les invités arrivèrent, les poulets étaient aussi durs que la pierre.
Des reliques ont été apportées à Saint Martin de Tours, Chartres et Angers.
Sergius and Bacchus
Martyrs, d. in the Diocletian persecution in Coele-Syria about 303. Their martyrdom is well authenticated by the earliestmartyrologies and by the early veneration paid them, as well as by such historians as Theodoret. They were officers of troops on the frontier, Sergius being primicerius, and Bacchus secundarius. According to the legend, there were high in esteem of the Caesar Maximianus on account of their bravery, but this favour was turned into hate when they acknowledged their Christian faith. When examined under torture they were beaten so severely with thongs that Bacchus died under the blows. Sergius, though, had much more suffering to endure; among other tortures, as the legend relates, he had to run eighteen miles in shoes which were covered on the soles with sharp-pointed nails that pierced through the foot. He was finally beheaded. The burial-place of Sergius and Bacchus was pointed out in the city of Resaph; in honour of Sergius the Emperor Justinian also built churches in honour of Sergius at Constantinople and Acre; the one at Constantinople, now a mosque, is a great work of Byzantine art. In the East, Sergius and Bacchus were universally honoured. Since the seventh century they have a celebrated church in Rome. Christian art represents the two saints as soldiers in military garb with branches of palm in their hands. Their feast is observed on 7 October. The Churchcalendar gives the two saints Marcellus and Apuleius on the same day as Sergius and Bacchus. They are said to have beenconverted to Christianity by the miracles of St. Peter. According to the "Martyrologium Romanum" they suffered martyrdom soon after the deaths of Sts. Peter and Paul and were buried near Rome. Their existing Acts are not genuine and agree to a great extent with those of Sts. Nereus and Achilleus. The veneration of the two saints is very old. A mass is assigned to them in the "Sacramentarium" of Pope Gelasius.
Analecta Bollandiana, XIV (1895), 373-395; Acta SS., October, III, 833-83; Bibliotheca hagiographica latina (Brussels, 1898-1900), 1102; Bibliotheca hagiographica graeca (2nd ed., Brussels, 1909), 229-30; cf. for Marcellus and Apuleius: Acta SS., October, III, 826-32; Bibliotheca hagiogr. lat., 780.
Löffler, Klemens. "Sergius and Bacchus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1912. 7 Oct. 2019 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13728a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Ferruccio Germani.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Église Santi Sergio e Bacco degli Ucraini,
The Passion of SS. Serge and Bacchus
Translated by John Boswell from the Greek "Passio antiquior SS. Sergii et Bacchi Graece nunc primum edita," AB 14 (Brussels, 1895), 373-395. This text is apparently the Greek original of the Latin passion beginning "Imperante Maximiano tyranne, multus error hominum genus possederat," printed in the Acta sanctorum, October 7, 865-79, and is more ancient than the more common account of "Metaphrastes."
Under the rule of the emperor Maximian gross superstition held sway over the human race, for people worshiped and made sacrifices to stones and wood, the devices of human beings, and they consumed obscene offerings. Those unwilling to sacrifice were subjected to torture and harsh punishment and compelled to serve the demons. A decree [to this effect] with severe threats was posted in the markets of every city. The purity of the air was defiled with the diabolical smell from the altars and the darkness of idolatrous error was reckoned a matter of state.
It was then that Serge and Bacchus, like stars shining joyously over the earth, radiating the light of confession of and faith in our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, began to grace the palace, honored by the emperor Maximian. The blessed Serge was the primicerius of the school of the Gentiles, a friend of the emperor and who had great familiarity with him, so that Maximian promptly acceded to his requests. Thus the blessed Serge, having a certain friend Antiochus, was able to arrange for him to become the governor of the province of Augusto-Euphrates.
The blessed Bacchus himself happened to be the secundarius of the school of the Gentiles. Being as one in their love for Christ, they were also undivided from each other in the army of the world, united not by the way of nature, but in the manner of faith, always singing and saying, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" They were adept and excellent soldiers of Christ, cultivating assiduously the inspired writings to combat diabolical error, and fighting vigorously in battle to defeat the enemy.
But the malicious and evil spirit afflicted with envy some of those who had been brought to the school of the Gentiles, and they, seeing [the saints] so honorably received in the imperial chambers, so advanced in military rank, and on such familiar terms with the emperor, and being unable to bring any other instrument of malice against them, accused them to the emperor of being Christians.
Waiting for a moment when the saints would not be standing near the emperor, and finding him alone, they said to him, "Such zeal for the cult of the holiest and greatest gods has your immortal majesty that in those holy rescripts of yours which are everywhere disseminated you have commanded that all unwilling to honor and worship them, and in submission to your righteous doctrine, should perish in great torment. How is it then that Serge and Bacchus, the directors of our school, enjoy such familiarity with your eternal power, when they worship Christ, whom those called Jews executed, crucifying him as a criminal; and by persuading many others they draw them away from the worship of the gods?"
When he heard this the emperor refused to believe it and said, "I do not think you speak the truth that Serge and Bacchus are not devoted to the veneration and worship of the gods, since I have such a pure affection for them, and they would hardly be worthy of it it they were not truly faithful in their piety toward the gods. But if, as you say, they belong to that unholy religion, they shall now be exposed. Once I have summoned them without their knowing of the charges that have been brought against them, I will go with them into the temple of mighty Zeus, and if they sacrifice and eat of the holy offerings, you yourselves shall bear the risk of the slander of which you are guilty. If they refuse to sacrifice, they shall incur the penalty appropriate for their impiety. For the gods would not have the shield-bearers of my empire be impious and ungrateful."
"We, O Emperor," replied the accusers, "moved by zeal and affection for the gods, have brought before your undying majesty what we have heard regarding them. It is for your unfailing wisdom to discover their impiety."
Straightaway the emperor sent for them. They entered with the customary retinue of guards and imperial pomp. The emperor received them and went in their company to the temple of Zeus. Once he had entered, Maximian offered libations with the whole army, partook of the sacrificial offerings, and looked around. He did not see the blessed Serge and Bacchus. They had not gone into the temple, because they thought it impious and unholy to see them offering and consuming unclean sacrifices. They stood outside and prayed as with one mouth, saying, "King of Kings and Lord of lords, who alone possess immortality and inhabit unapproachable light, shed light on the eyes of their minds, because they walk in the darkness of their unknowing; they have exchanged your glory, uncorruptible God, for the likeness of corruptible men and birds and beasts and snakes; and they worship the created rather than you, the creator. Turn them to knowledge of you, that they may know you, the one true God, and your only-begotten Son, our Lord ]esus Christ, who for us and for our salvation suffered and rose from the dead, that he might free us from the bonds of the law and rescue us from the folly of vain idols. Preserve us, God, pure and spotless in the path of your martyrs, walking in your commandments."
While this prayer was yet in their mouths, the emperor sent some of the guard standing near him and commanded them to be brought into the temple. When they had entered, the emperor said to them, "It appears that, counting on my great friendship and kindnessÑfor which the gods have been your defenders and advocates Ñ you have seen fit to disdain imperial law and to become deserters and enemies of the gods. But I will not spare you if indeed those things spoken of you prove to be true. Go, then, to the altar of mighty Zeus, make sacrifice and consume, like everyone else, the mystical offerings."
In reply the noble soldiers of Christ, the martyrs Serge and Bacchus, answered: "We, O Emperor, are obliged to render to you earthly service of this corporal body; but we have a true and eternal king in heaven, Jesus the Son of God, who is the commander of our souls, our hope and our refuge of salvation. To him every day we offer a holy, living sacrifice, our thoughtful worship. We do not sacrifice to stones or wood, nor do we bow to them. Your gods have ears, but they do not hear the prayers of humans; just as they have noses but do not smell the sacrifice brought them, have mouths but do not speak, hands but do not feel, feet but do not walk. 'They that make them,' as the Scripture says, 'are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them because Thou are with us.'''
The emperor's countenance was transformed with anger; immediately he ordered their belts cut off, their tunics and all other military garb removed, the gold torcs taken from around their necks, and women's 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. But when they were led into the middle of the marketplace the saints sang and chanted together, "Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, Lord"; and this apostolic saying: "Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and putting off the form of the old man, naked in faith we rejoice in you, Lord, because you have clothed us with the garment of salvation, and have covered us with the robe of righteousness; as brides you have decked us with women's gowns and joined us together for you [or: "joined us to you"] through our confession. You, Lord, commanded us, saying, 'Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake.... But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.' Rise, Lord, help us and rescue us for your name's sake; strengthen our souls that we may not be separated from you and the impious may not say, 'Where is their God?' "
When they reached the palace Maximian summoned them and said, "Most wicked of all men, so much for the friendship which I had bestowed on you, thinking you to have proper respect for the gods, and which you, confident of my openness and affection, have despised, brazenly offering me in return that which is against the law of obedience and subjection. But why should you blaspheme the gods as well, through whom the human race enjoys such abundant peace? Do you not realize that the Christ whom you worship was the son of a carpenter, born out of wedlock of an adulterous mother, whom those called Jews executed by crucifixion, because he had become the cause of dissensions and numerous troubles among them, leading them into error with magic and claiming to be a god? The very great race of our gods were all born of legal marriage, of the most high Zeus, who is thought to be the most holy, giving birth through his marriage and union with the blessed Hera. I imagine that you will have also heard that the heroic and twelve greatest labors were worthy of a god, those of heavenly Hercules, born of Zeus."
The noble soldiers of Christ answered, "Your majesty is mistaken. These are myths that ring in the ears of the simpler men and lead them to destruction. He whom you say to have been born of adultery as the son of a carpenter, he is God, the son of the True God, with and through whom was all made. He established the heavens, he made the earth, the abyss and the great sea he bounded with sand, he adorned the heavens with the multitude of stars, the sun he invented for the illumination of the day and as a torch in the night he devised the moon. He divided the darkness from the light, he imposed measure on the day and limits on the night, in wisdom he brought forth all things from nonbeing to being. In these last days he was born upon the earth for the salvation of humankind, not from the desire of a man, nor the desire of the flesh, but from the Holy Spirit and an ever-virgin girl, and living among humans he taught us to turn from the error of vain idols and to know him and his father. He is true God of true God, and in accord with an unknowable plan he died for the salvation of the human race, but he plundered hell and rose on the third day in the power of his divinity, and he established incorruptibility and the resurrection of the dead to eternal life."
Beside himself with rage on hearing these things, the emperor ordered that their accusers be enrolled in their positions in the army and said to them, "I am sending you to Duke Antiochus, thrice-cursed ones Ñ the very man you were able to promote to such rank because of the friendship and familiarity you had with me Ñ so that you will realize how great is the honor you have lost by speaking against the gods and how trivial a court you merit for the worst punishments, since the greatness of the gods has apprehended and brought your blasphemy to the judgment seat for justice."
Immediately he sent them to Duke Antiochus, ordering that their entire bodies be bound with heavy chains, and that they be sent thus to Eastern parts through a succession of officials. He also wrote a letter along these lines: "From Maximian, eternal emperor and triumphant ruler of all, greetings to Duke Antiochus. The wisdom of the greatest gods is unwilling that any men should be impious and hostile to their worship, especially shield and spear-bearers of our empire. Wherefore I commend to your severity the vile Serge and Bacchus, convicted with apposite proof of belonging to the unholy sect of the Christians and plainly deserving of the worst punishment, whom I consider unworthy of the administration of imperial justice. If they should be persuaded by you to change their minds and sacrifice to the gods, then treat them with their own innate humanity, free them from the prescribed torments and punishments, assure them of our forgiving kindness and that they will receive back immediately their appropriate military rank and be better off now than they were before. But if they will not be persuaded and persist in their unholy religion, subject them to the severest penalties of the law and remove from them hope of long life with the penalty of the sword. Farewell."
The same day the offficials took them out of the city as far as the twelfth mark, and when evening overtook them they stopped at an inn. About midnight an angel of the Lord appeared and said to [the saints], "Take courage and fight against the devil and his evil spirits, as noble soldiers and athletes of Christ, and once you have thrown the enemy put him under your feet so that when you appear before the king of glory we, the host of the army of angels, may come to greet you singing the hymn of victory, conferring on you the trophies of triumph and the crowns of perfect faith and unity.
When morning came they rose and took the road with great joy and alacrity. There were also some of their household servants with them, united with them in longing for the love of Christ, and in true love for their corporal masters, on account of which they would not leave them when they were in such straits. They heard them discussing with each other the appearance of the angel in the night.
Taking the road, the two chanted psalms together and prayed as if with one mouth, thus, "We have rejoiced in the way of martyrdom, as much as in all riches. We will meditate in thy precepts and search out thy ways. We will delight ourselves in thy statutes: we will not forget thy word. Deal bountifully with thy servants, that we may live and keep thy word."
As the emperor had commanded, the soldiers of Christ were sent from city to city through a succession of changing officials with great security along the road of martyrdom laid down for them, until they were brought to the eparchy of Augusto-Euphrates, which was on the borders next to the people of the Saracens, to a certain fortress called Barbalisus where Duke Antiochus had his seat.
Appearing promptly before him around the ninth hour, their custodians handed over the emperor's letter and also the holy martyrs Serge and Bacchus. Antiochus rose from his dais and accepted the emperor's rescript in his purple general's cloak; when he had read it he summoned privately the official in charge and told him, "Take the prisoners and secure them in the military prison, seeing that apart from the usual constraints they do not suffer anything, and do not place their feet in full manacles of wood. Bring them to the bench of my justice tomorrow, so that I can hear them at the prescribed time, according to the law." The official took them and bound them as the duke had commanded him. When it was evening, they sang together and prayed, as with one mouth, speaking thus: "Thou, Lord, brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters; thou didst cleave the fountain and the flood; thou hast set all the borders of the earth. Cast thine eye upon us, O Lord, for the enemy hath reproached us, and the foolish people have blasphemed thy holy name. Deliver not the souls of those confessing thee to men more savage than beasts, forget not the congregation of thy poor forever. Have respect unto thy covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. Let us not be returned humbled, ashamed: so that we, thy humble servants, may praise thy name. Forget not the voice of thine enemies: the pride of them that hate thee ascendeth continually against us, thy servants, and in vain have the people hated us. But do thou, O Lord, rescue us and free us for thy name's sake."
Then, while they slept for a while, an angel of the Lord appeared to them and said, "Take heart, stand fast and unmovable in your faith and love. It is God who aids and watches over you."
Rising from their sleep and reporting to their household the apparition of the angel, they were encouraged and began to chant again: "ln my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me from his holy mountain. I laid me down and slept; for the Lord sustained me. We will not be afraid of thou sands of people, that have set themselves against us round about. Arise, Lord, and save us, O our God: for salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people."
On the following day, when the duke was seated on the bench of justice in the praetorium, he summoned the commentarius and said, "Bring in the prisoners." The latter responded, "They are at hand before the righteous bench of your authority." When the saints appeared, he commanded the emperor's letter to be read. Once this was done, Duke Antiochus, prompted by his associate, announced, "It is incumbent on you to obey the orders of the glorious emperor, our lord, and to sacrifice to the gods and become worthy of their benevolence. Since you were unwilling to do this, you have forfeited great glory, and having made yourselves unworthy, were discharged from the military and deprived of all your former wealth. Nonetheless, if you will now obey me and sacrifice to the gods to earn their goodwill, you could earn even greater honor and glory than before, and receive back your military rank and more besides.
"This was prescribed in the letter sent to me, as you yourselves have heard. Being humane, the most holy emperor has disposed that if you repent of those things you have rashly done, and now sacrifice to the gods, you may yet enjoy his favor. Wherefore I, feeling compassion for you, and mindful of your friendship and kindnessÑespecially yours, my Lord Serge, for I myself have benefited from your generosityÑadvise you that if you will not do this, you force me to obey our lord the emperor and to see that his orders concerning you are strictly observed."
In reply the saints declared, "We have left all and followed Christ, so that heedless of earthly and temporal honor, we may become rivals of the angels in heaven, and ignoring terrestrial and corruptible wealth, we may heap up treasure in heaven. What profit would it be if we gained the whole world, but lost our souls? Do not, therefore, so advise us, Antiochus. For your tongue is forked, and the poison of adders is under your lips. You will hardly be able to change our minds while God himself encourages us. Do, therefore, what you will; we will not sacrifice to wood, nor worship stones. We serve Christ, the son of God, the eternal ruler, before whom 'every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth,' and whom every tongue should confess. Your gods are man-made idols: if they were divine, they themselves would command humans, and would not [need to] be avenged through human design on those who decline to serve and worship them."
The duke rejoined, "We do not avenge the gods. It is through their disposition that all the powers of our enemies have been subjected to us. But we call you to justice because of your accursed and unholy superstition."
To which the saints responded, "It is you who are accursed and unholy, and all those persuaded by you to sacrifice to demons and worship insensate stones and wood. All of them will soon be cast eternally into flames, and you also will be punished with them."
In a great rage the duke commandel that the blessed Serge be taken from the praetorium and returned to prison; the blessed Bacchus he ordered held for flogging. The henchmen went at this until they collapsed exhausted and near dead on the floor. When they could go on no longer, he directed that [Bacchus] be turned over on his stomach to be beaten with four whips of rawhide, saying to him, "Let's see if your Christ will free you from my hands." From the first hour until evening they wore away his flesh; blood flowed everywhere; both his stomach and liver were ruptured.
The blessed Bacchus said to Antiochus: "The devil's servants, your torturers have failed; your impudence is overthrown; the tyrant Maximian is conquered; your father the devil has been put to shame. The more the man without is ravaged by your blows, the more the man within is renewed in preparation for the eternal life to come."
After he said this, there was a great voice from heaven: "Come, rest henceforth in the kingdom prepared for you, my noble athlete and soldier, Bacchus." Those standing by hearing the voice were stupefied and struck dumb. He himself, having borne the blows so long, gave up his spirit to the angels.
The duke, frustrated by his defeat, ordered that his remains not be buried, but thrown out and exposed as meat to the dogs, beasts, and birds outside the camp. Then he rose and left. When the body was tossed some distance from the camp, a crowd of animals gathered around it. The birds flying above would not allow the bloodthirsty beasts to touch it, and kept guard through out the night.
In the morning, some of the monks who lived nearby in caves came and liked up the body the animals Ñ as if they were rational human beings Ñ had been mourning. They buried him in one of their caves.
Meanwhile the blessed Serge, deeply depressed and heartsick over the loss of Bacchus, wept and cried out, "No longer, brother and fellow soldier, will we chant together, 'Behold, how good and how 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 [literally, "made single"], 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 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 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.'' At daybreak when he rose he related to those who were with him how he had seen the blessed Bacchus in the night and in what sort of garb.
The next day the duke planned to go out of the fortress of Barbalisus to that of Souros, and commanded that the blessed Serge follow. He enjoined him to sacrifice, but the latter, with noble judgment, refused his blandishments. When they reached the castle of Souros, Antiochus took his seat in the praetorium, summoned the blessed Serge, and told him, "The most sacrilegious Bacchus refused to sacrifice to the gods and chose to die violently; he got the death he deserved. But you, my lord Serge, why give yourself over to such misery by following that deceptive and impious cult. Mindful of your kindness to me I am disposed to mercy; and it embarrasses me that you were the cause of my having obtained this authority, since now you stand in the dock as the accused, and I sit on the bench as the prosecutor."
To this Christ's witness answered, "Antiochus, this very suffering and present disgrace will stand as a patron for me of great eloquence and eternal glory with the king of heaven and of earth and of every living thing, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. If only you would now heed me and recognize my God and king, Christ, and be as circumspect in regard to the heavenly ruler, Christ, as you are in dealing with earthly kings, you would provide yourself with power unending and perpetual glory. For earthly rulers pass quickly, as the psalm says: 'Ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.' And again, 'I have seen the wicked highly exalted, and lifted up like the cedars of Libanus. And I passed by, and lo, he was not: and I sought him and his place was not found.' "
The duke replied, "Spare us this idiocy and ignorant foolishness; sacrifice to the gods in obedience to the holy command of our ruler, the emperor Maximian. If you will not, know that you force me to forget all that has come to me through you and to subject you to the most rigorous punishment decreed by law."
Serge answered, "Do as you will. I have Christ to preserve me, who said, 'Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.' The body is subject to you: torture and punish it if you wish. But bear in mind that even if you kill my body, you can not dominate my soul Ñeither you nor your father, Satan."
The duke responded angrily: "It appears that my patience has served only to prod you along the path of willfulness." He summoned the official in charge and told him, "Fasten long nails in his boots, sticking straight up, and then put them on him." Once the boots were on, Antiochus sat in his carriage, directed that the animals be driven fiercely all the way to Tetrapyrgium, and ordered the blessed one to run in front of him. Tetrapyrgium is nine miles from Syrum. While he ran, the blessed one sang, "I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me. He brought me up also out of a horrible pagan pit, out of the miry clay of idolatry, and set my feet upon a rock, and establishes my goings."
When they reached the castle of Tetrapyrgium the duke said, "It amazes me, Serge, that having first been kept in such confinement you can now sustain these bitter torments." The most holy martyr answered, "These tortures are not bitter to me, but sweeter than honey." The duke got out of the chariot and went in to breakfast, indicating that [Serge] should be retained in the soldiers' custody.
In the evening [Serge] sang psalms. "Those who did eat of my bread hath lifted up their heels against me, and with the cords of hideous torture they have laid a net for my feet, hoping to trip me up. But rise, Lord, outrun them and cause them to stumble, and rescue my soul from the wicked." About midnight an angel of the Lord came to him and healed him, restoring his feet completely. In the morning, mounting the bench, the duke ordered him brought in, thinking he would be unable to walk and would have to be carried, on account of his feet. When he saw him coming, walking a considerable distance and not limping at all, he was astounded, and exclaimed, "The man is a sorcerer. This must be how he managed to enjoy such familiarity with the emperor: he accomplished it through sorcery. What I am seeing is the proof of what they said about him. I would have thought it wholly impossible for him to walk on his feet after having been disabled by the torture inflicted on him yesterday. By the gods I am confounded at seeing him now walk as if nothing had happened!"
When the blessed Serge stood before the bench Antiochus addressed him. "Come to your senses even now, sacrifice to the gods, and you will avoid further torture. I will spare you out of respect for your kindness. If you will not, know that the witchcraft with which you devised to heal yourself will not avail you."
To which the blessed Serge replied, "If only you could escape the intoxication of diabolical error. I am in my senses in the Lord who has trampled the weapons of your father the devil under the feet of his humble servant, and has given me victory over you, and sent his angel to heal me. It is you who are the magician, and those who worship demons. It is the cult of your nameless idols that invented every sorcery, that is the beginning and cause and conclusion of all evil."
Antiochus sat down on his carriage even angrier, and commanded [Serge] to run before him wearing the same boots as far as the castle of Rosafae, another nine miles from Tetrapyrgium. When they came to the castle of Rosafae, the duke said to the blessed Serge, "Has the agony of the nails untied the knot of your idiocy?' Are you prepared now to sacrifice to the gods, or will you persist in this insane obsession?"
The noblest martyr rejoined, "Know this, Antiochus: with this foolishness I will dissolve and undo your malicious and wicked strength. Do what you will: I will not worship demons, nor sacrifice to idols. Blameless in this, I strive to offer sacrifice only to my Lord."
Seeing that he remained steadfast and immovable in his faith and confession of Christ, the duke pronounced sentence against him: "You have rendered yourself unworthy of the favor of the gods, Serge, and become a member of the unholy sect called Christians, injuring the great good of our ruler, the emperor Maximian, by refusing to comply with his holy decree and sacrifice to the gods. For this the law requires that you suffer the penalty of the sword." A number of those present shouted out that the sentence issued against him was just. The guards came immediately and gagged his holy lips, took him out of the courtroom, and led him away to be executed.
A great crowd of men, women, and children followed, to see the blessed one meet his end. Seeing the beauty blooming in his face, and the grandeur and nobility of his youth, they wept bitterly over him and bemoaned him. The beasts of the region left their lairs and gathered together with the people, doing no injury to the humans, and bewailed with inarticulate sounds the passing of the holy martyr.
When they reached the place where the holy martyr of Christ was to meet his end, he called on the guards to allow him a little time to pray. Extending his hands to heaven, he said, "The beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, recognizing your dominion and rule, Lord, have gathered together for the glory of your holy name, so that you will incline and wish of your goodness to turn through their unreason the reason of humans to knowledge of you. For you wish all to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. When you lay death upon them, accept their repentance, Lord, and do not remember the sin of ignorance which they have perpetrated against us for your sake. Enlighten the eyes of their minds and lead them to the knowledge of you. Receive, Lord, my spirit, and give it rest in the heavenly tents with all the others whom you have found acceptable. To you do I commend my soul, which you have rescued from the snares of the devil."
Saying this and signing himself, he knelt and was beheaded, giving up his spirit to the angels. A voice from heaven said, "Come, also, Serge, soldier and victor, to the kingdom prepared for you. The hosts of angels, the ranks of patriarchs, the choirs of apostles and prophets, the souls of the just all await your coming to share with them the wonderful things in store for you there."
The place that received the holy martyr's blood became a great chasm; God arranged this so that those who wallow like pigs in the mire of paganism, terrified when they saw the abyss, would not dare to approach or trample in this spot the blood of the holy martyr. That was the reason this great chasm came into existence, and the spot has remained so up to the present day, bearing the signs of great antiquity at the command of God, to establish the miracle visually for unbelievers, so that they may build on it a firm foundation of faith.
Some of those who had come to witness the death of the holy martyr, seeing that they shared a common nature [with him], gathered up his remains and buried them handsomely where the holy one had died. After a great while some religious men from the castle of Souros, prompted by zeal for the service of Christ, but pious in a somewhat piratical way, tried to steal the body from the spot, as if it were some precious treasure. The saint would not suffer his body, which had been dragged around, whipped, and triumphed so publicly in the faith of Christ, to be moved in secret, so he asked of God that a fire be set in the spot, not to seek revenge on those attempting the theft or to burn them, but so that by lightening the gloom of night he would reveal the robbery to those in the castle of Rosafae, which is just what happened. Once the fire was burning in the place where the saint lay, some of the soldiers living there saw the flames reaching to the sky, and thought that the great blaze had been set by some enemy, so they came out armed and pursued those attempting to steal the saint's body. They prevailed on them to remain there a few days and to build from stones and clay a tomb where he lay. Once they had honorably covered the body of the saint, they went away.
After a time, when the religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Chrisr had begun to flourish, some very holy bishops Ñ fifteen in number Ñ gathered together and constructed near the castle of Rosafae a shrine worthy of [Serge's] confession, and moved his remains there, installing them in the shrine on the very day he was martyred: the seventh of October.
Many miracles and cures were effected wherever his holy relics were, especially in the tomb where he had first lain. For it is a quality of the place of his death that the saint is able to prevail upon God to heal all those who come there with any sort of disease, and to cure those possessed of unclean spirits, and to render savage beasts completely tame. The animals, in fact, observe the day of his death every year as if it were a law, coming in from the surrounding desert and mingling with the humans without doing them any harm, nor do their savage impulses move them to any violence against the humans who come there. Rather, they come to the place in gentleness out of reverence for the holy martyr, at the command of God, to whom be glory, honor, and power, now and for ever.
Little Hagia Sophia (Église des Saints Sergius et Bacchus),
Troparia and kontakia for October 7
Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Syria
Troparion — Tone 4
Kontakion — Tone 2
Troparion — Tone 4
Kontakion — Tone 6
SOURCE : https://www.oca.org/saints/troparia
Église Santi Sergio e Bacco degli Ucraini,
Piazza Madonna dei Monti, Rione de Monti, Rome.
Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Syria
The emperor, wanting to convince himself of the truth of the accusation, ordered Sergius and Bacchus to offer sacrifice to the idols, but they replied that they honored the One God and worshiped only Him.The Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus in Syria were appointed to high positions in the army by the emperor Maximian (284-305), who did not know that they were Christians. Envious people informed Maximian that his two trusted counsellors did not honor the pagan gods. This was considered to be a crime against the state.
Maximian commanded that the martyrs be stripped of the insignia of military rank (their belts, gold pendants, and rings), and then dressed them in feminine clothing. They were led through the city with an iron chains around their necks, and the people mocked them. Then he summoned Sergius and Bacchus to him again and in a friendly manner advised them not to be swayed by Christian fables, but to return to the Roman gods. The saints refuted the emperor’s words, and demonstrated the folly of worshiping the pagan gods.
Église Santi Sergio e Bacco degli Ucraini,
Santi Sergio e Bacco Martiri in Siria
Barbalisso e Rosapha in Siria, † 310 ca.
Martirologio Romano: Nella regione di Rusafah in Siria presso il fiume Eufrate, santi Sergio e Bacco, martiri.
Santi SERGIO e BACCO, martiri in Siria
Questi due santi martiri orientali, ebbero nell’antichità una grande venerazione sia in Oriente che in Occidente, benché le notizie che li riguardano hanno scarso valore storico, ad ogni modo di esse rimangono redazioni in diverse lingue.
Sergio e Bacco erano soldati delle Legioni di confine, ed occupavano un alto grado nel palazzo di Massimino Daia († 313), divenuto Cesare nel 305 con il governo dell’Oriente; accusati come cristiani da nemici invidiosi, furono condotti al tempio di Giove ed invitati a sacrificare, ma essi rifiutarono, venendo così degradati e fatti girare per dileggio per le vie della città, vestiti da donna.
Lo stesso imperatore fece invano un tentativo di farli apostatare, essi poi furono inviati da Antioco, prefetto della Provincia Siro-Eufratese, perché fossero uccisi.
Nel ‘castrum’ di Barbalisso, Bacco fu sottoposto ad una cruenta flagellazione, tanto spietata che sotto i colpi morì; il suo corpo fu lasciato insepolto, ma di notte i cristiani lo raccolsero seppellendolo in una grotta vicina.
Sergio invece fu costretto a camminare con dei chiodi conficcati nei piedi, attraverso i ‘castra’ di Saura, Tetrapirgio e Rosapha, finché in quest’ultima città fortificata venne decapitato.
Venne sepolto nello stesso luogo del martirio e sulla sua tomba venne eretta una piccola chiesa; quando finite le persecuzioni, tornò la pace anche per i cristiani, accanto al ‘castrum’ di Rosapha, fu costruita una grande chiesa, in cui venne trasferito il corpo del martire, nel giorno anniversario della sua morte, il 7 ottobre.
Il culto per Sergio fu certamente più diffuso, lasciando talvolta in ombra quello di Bacco; a testimonianza che essi furono uccisi a pochi giorni l’uno dall’altro, in Siria venivano celebrati il 1° ottobre (Bacco) e il 7 ottobre (Sergio) ma poi la celebrazione venne unificata al 7 ottobre, sia in Oriente che in Occidente.
Ad aumentare il culto per s. Sergio, contribuì senz’altro la costruzione della grandiosa basilica nella Frigia, nel secolo V, da parte del vescovo Alessandro di Gerapoli; attorno al tempio divenuto meta di pellegrinaggi e al quale accorrevano anche le tribù nomadi a sud dell’Eufrate, si formò un villaggio che Giustiniano imperatore, chiamò Sergiopoli, arricchendolo di molte opere come acquedotti e fortezze.
I miracoli avvenuti a Sergiopoli, diffusero il culto anche in Occidente, mentre in tutti gli Stati Medio-Orientali, sorsero tante chiese dedicate a s. Sergio; le reliquie proprio per questa diffusione, erano sparse dappertutto. Chiese in loro onore esistevano anche a Roma e Ravenna; nel periodo bizantino Sergio e Bacco furono invocati come protettori delle milizie e nei secoli dal VI all’XI sono stati sempre effigiati come ufficiali con la collana d’oro dei dignitari di corte.
La città di Trieste ha nel suo stemma, la punta di un’alabarda in campo rosso, essa è detta “alabarda di san Sergio”, perché si racconta che il tribuno Sergio della XV Legione Apollinare, si stanza a Trieste, qui si convertì al cristianesimo.
Quando fu scoperto, venne richiamato alla corte imperiale ed egli congedandosi dai compagni di fede cristiana triestini, promise loro un segno annunciante la sua morte, che prevedeva imminente.
Quando fu decapitato a Rosapha in Siria, secondo la tradizione, un’alabarda cadde dal cielo sereno, nel Foro cittadino. L’arma è conservata nel tesoro della cattedrale di Trieste; gli Statuti comunali del 1350 la chiamavano più appropriatamente “lancia di s. Sergio”.
Autore: Antonio Borrelli
SOURCE : http://www.santiebeati.it/dettaglio/91356