Comments to: David Woods
Last Updated: September 1999

Sources for Cult of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus

[6th-Century Events] [8th-Century Events] [9th-Century Events]


6th-Century Events

Gregory of Tours, Glory of the Martyrs 96

The martyr Sergius also worked many miracles for people by healing illnesses and curing the weaknesses of those who faithfully prayed to him. As a result it happened that thereafter people either made vows or brought gifts to his large church. It is not permitted that any at all of these gifts be removed or taken away. If anyone does so, he soon pays the penalty of disgrace or death. Because of this protection many people dedicated their possessions to the saint, so that they might be protected by his power and not be seized by evil men. Once there was an old woman who was impoverished and, I think, similar to that poor woman in the Gospel who, although she had nothing else, piously threw two mites into the offertory box. This woman had a few chickens among her fowl that she entrusted to the authority of the church because of a vow [she had made] to bring them to the saint's house when circumstances demanded. When many people gathered for the festival of the saint, two men who had once seen these chickens made an agreement and secretly stole one. They cut off its head, plucked its feathers, cut off its feet, and put it in a pot with water that they hung over a fire and rapidly heated. The water boiled furiously, but the stolen meat was not cooked. Even though the water boiled awy, this chicken did not become tender at all. They repeatedly tested it with their hands and tried to break a claw, but they discovered that what they had put [in the water] was even tougher. Meanwhile the guests they had invited to dinner were arriving. These guests were about to receive nothing from the preparations. The table was ready, covered with white napkins and decorated with an embroidered cloth. But the food had been transformed into an unexpected toughness. Although the pot was often filled with water, nothing they put in it was found to be cooked. So, because of this unexpected miracle, the dinner was turned into stone, the hosts were dismayed, the guests were embarassed, and everyone left the meal in shame.

Source of Translation: R. Van Dam, Gregory of Tours: Glory of the Martytrs (Liverpool, 1988), 121.
Commentary: Writing in the 590s, bishop Gregory of Tours (573-94) describes the success enjoyed by Sergius' "large church" at Resapha in Syria.

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Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks 7.31

At this time Gundovald was in the city of Bordeaux, where he had the support of Bishop Bertram. He was looking out for anyone who could further his cause. Somebody told him that a certain king in eastern parts had obtained possession of the thumb of Saint Sergius the martyr, and that he had attached this to his own right arm. Whenever he needed help to drive back his enemies, he would put his trust in this support; for when he raised his right arm the enemy troops would immediately turn in flight, as if they had been vanquished by the martyr's miraculous power. As soon as Gundovald heard of this, he began to inquire very urgently whether there was anybody in the neighbourhood who had managed to acquire any relics of this martyr Saint Sergius. The name of a merchant called Eufronius was put forward by Bishop Bertram. Bertram hated Eufronius, because he had once had him tonsured against his will, hoping to gain control of his possessions, but Eufronius had treated the whole matter with ridicule, going off to live in another town until his hair grew, and then returning. "There is a certain Syrian living in this city," said Bertram. "His name is Eufronius and he has turned his house into a shrine. In this house he has placed relics of the Saint whom you have just mentioned: through their influence, and with the help of the supernatural power of the martyr, he has witnessed many miracles. There was a time, for instance, when the city of Bordeaux was being burnt in a great fire, but Eufronius' house was not touched, although it was enveloped in flames." When Bertram said this, Mummolus immediately set off at full speed for the Syrian's house, taking the Bishop with him. They stood on either side of the man, and Mummolus demanded that the holy relics be shown to him. Eufronius refused to do so. Thinking that some trap was perhaps being laid for him, in view of the malic which the Bishop bore him, he said: "I am an old man. Do stop harassing me and insulting the Saint. Here are a hundred gold pieces. Take them and go." Mummolus repeated that he wanted to see the holy relics. Eufronius then offered him two hundred gold pieces, but he could not persuade him to leave until the relics had been shown him. They were hidden in a casket high up in the wall near the altar. Mummolus ordered a ladder to be set up against the wall, and then he told one of Bishop Bertram's deacons to climb up. The man clambered up the steps of the ladder and took hold of the casket, but he trembled so violently that it seemed impossible that he could reach the ground again alive. Anyway, as I have said, he took the casket in his hand, from where it was hanging against the wall, and brought it down. Mummolus examined it and found in it one of the bones of the Saint's finger. He had the nerve to give it a knock with his knife. He hit it with his knife, first on one side and then on the other. After giving it a number of such blows, he managed with great difficulty to break it. The little bone broke into three pieces and the fragments dropped out of sight in different directions. What had happened can hardly have pleased the martyr, or so I imagine. Eufronius wept bitterly and all three knelt in prayer, besseching God of His grace to deign to reveal to them the fragments which had disappeared from human sight. When they had finished their prayers, they discovered the pieces of bone. Mummolus took one of them and went off with it, but not with the approval of the martyr, as the remainder of the story has made clear.

Source of Translation: L. Thorpe, Gregory of Tours: The History of the Franks (Harmondsworth, 1974), 413-14.
Commentary:.

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Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks 10.31

I found the walls of St. Martin's church damaged by fire. I ordered my workmen to use all their skill to paint and decorate them, until they were as bright as they had previously been. I had a baptistery built adjacent to the church, and there I placed the relics of Saint John and Saint Sergius the martyr. In the old baptistery I put the relics of Saint Benignus the martyr. In many other places in Tours and its immediate neighbourhood I dedicated churches and oratories, and these I enriched with relics of the saints. It would be too long to give you a complete list.

Source of Translation: L. Thorpe, Gregory of Tours: The History of the Franks (Harmondsworth, 1974), 602.
Commentary: Bishop Gregory of Tours (573-94) placed a relic of St. Sergius in a new baptistery next to St. Martin's church at Tours.

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Procopius, The Buildings 2.9.3-9

There is a certain church in Euphratesia, dedicated to Sergius, a famous saint, whom men of former times used to worship and revere, so that they named the place Sergiopolis, and they had surrounded it with a very humble wall, just sufficient to prevent the Saracens of the region from capturing it by storm. For the Saracens are naturally incapable of storming a wall, and the weakest kind of barricade, put together with perhaps nothing but mud, is sufficient to check their assault. At a later time, however, this church, through its acquisition of treasures, came to be powerful and celebrated. And the Emperor Justinian, upon considering this situation, at once gave it careful attention, and he surrounded the church with a most remarkable wall, and he stored up a great quantity of water and thus provided the inhabitants with a bountiful supply. Furthermore, he added to the place houses and stoas and the other buildings which are wont to be the adornments of a city. Besides this he established there a garrison of soldiers who, in case of need, defended the circuit-wall. Chosroes, indeed, the King of the Persians, made a great effort to capture the city, sending a great army to besiege it; but because of the strength of the defences he accomplished nothing and abandoned the investment.

Source of Translation: H.B. Dewing, Procopius VII: The Buildings (Loeb Classical Library 343: Cambridge, MA, 1971), 157-58.
Commentary: Writing c.560, Procopius describes the fortification by the emperor Justinian I (527-65) of Sergiopolis, formerly Resapha, the central site for the cult of St. Sergius.

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Anonymous, Life of St. Nicholas of Sion 80

And his holy remains, beloved of God, were buried inside holy and glorious Sion, where are deposited the remains of the glorious, victorious, triumphant, and holy martyrs, Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist, Saint Stephen the Protomartyr, and Saint Theodore, and Saints Sergios and Bakchos and the Holy Forty [Martyrs]. He was buried in the right part of the right section for women. He fulfilled his life, and is interceding for all who believe in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, as always, so now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Source of Translation: I. Sevcenko and N.P. Sevcenko, The Life of St. Nicholas of Sion (The Archbishop Iakovos Library of Ecclesiastical and Historical Sources 10: Brookline, 1984), 113.
Commentary: The remains of Nicholas, Abbot of the Monastery of Holy Sion in Lycia, were buried in his monastery upon his death in 564. The monastery possessed a large number of relics, including some of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus.

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Anonymous, Chronicle of AD1234 8 (217)

He also asked Maurice to give away his daughter Maria to him in marriage and Maurice was delighted to give his consent to this request. He gave away his daughter to him and she was escorted on her mission with great honour. Maurice sent bishops and clergy with her and, at the command of Chosroes, two temples were built for his bride, one dedicated to Saint Sergius, the other to the Mother of God; Anastasius the patriarch of Antioch was sent to conscrate them. There was profound peace between the Persians and the Romans and Chosroes treated Maurice with the respect due to a father.

Source of Translation: A. Palmer, The Seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles (Liverpool, 1993), 117.
Commentary: The Byzantine emperor Maurice (582-602) gave his daughter in marriage to the Persian emperor Chosroes II (590-628) who built a church of St. Sergius for her at his capital of Ctesiphon.

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8th-Century Events

Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 92.13

As for SS. Sergius' and Bacchus' deaconry at St. Peter's, in which there was long since a small oratory, he much extended the fabric from the ground up. He granted everything that a deaconry uses and laid down that it should be at the service of the deacon's ministry to the poor for all time.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Eighth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1992), 25.
Commentary: Pope Gregory III (731-41) rebuilt the deaconry of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus at St. Peter's, i.e. outside the walls. There was a second deaconry of the same name within the walls near the Capitol.

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Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 97.90

Also at Ss. Sergius' and Bacchus' deaconry, this deaconry's alms-distributor, out of fear of a temple sited above it, overturned it over this church and obliterated the basilica to its foundations and was totally unable to restore it; moved with pity and with love for those martyrs, this farsighted bishop restored and enlarged it to a state of great beauty.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Eighth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1992), 169.
Commentary: Pope Hadrian I (772-95) rebuilt the deaconry of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus within the walls of Rome. It was situated on the site of the imperial Rostra, between the arch of Septimius Severus and the temple of Saturn, below the temple of Concord whose destruction is recorded here.

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9th-Century Events

Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 98.38

In Ss. Sergius' and Bacchus' deaconry, a cloth of cross-adorned silk.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Eighth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1992), 197.
Commentary: Pope Leo III (795-816) presented a cloth to the deaconry of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus among his gifts to other institutions also. It is unclear which of the two deaconries of this title at Rome is meant here.

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Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 98.75

Ss. Sergius and Bacchus' deaconry, silver crown, 6lb.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Eighth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1992), 211.
Commentary: Pope Leo III (795-816) presented siver gifts to many institutions at Rome, including a deaconry of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus. It is unclear which of the two deaconries of this title at Rome is meant here.

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Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 98.78

Ss. Sergius and Bacchus' oratory in Callinicum, silver canister, 2lb.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Eighth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1992), 214.
Commentary: Pope Leo III (795-816) presented silver gifts to many institutions at Rome, including the oratory of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus.

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Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 98.79

St. Sergius' monastery, silver canister, 3lb.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Eighth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1992), 215.
Commentary: Pope Leo III (795-816) presented silver gifts to many institutions at Rome, including the monastery of St. Sergius identifiable as the monastery of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus at Lateran.

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Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 100.22

This pontiff, with his watchful concern for the monasteries constructed all round, stuck to his purpose and inquired what they had. He discovered that Ss. Sergius and Bacchus' monastery behind the Lateran patriarchate's aqueduct was destitute of evrything, so that the community of the Lord's handmaids which existed in it, were, through poverty and want, unable to sing any praises to the almighty Lord and his saints. The venerable pastor was moved to pity by this inquiry. He accomplished it that God's handmaids could exist well and religiously; and he gathered and set up a community of monks in it. he enriched that monastery and increased it fully and adequately with many sources of revenue in households, farmsteads, vineyards, houses, and places in the city and countryside. He laid down that the resident community, with every necessity provided for, should day and night chant praises and hymns melodiously to the only God and his saints in the Saviour our Lord Jesus Christ's venerable church close to the Lateran.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Ninth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1995), 21-22.
Commentary: Pope Paschal I (817-24) added the monastery of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus to those charged with choir service at the Lateran.

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Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 103.12

The same prelate provided 1 other gold-interwoven cloth in Ss. Sergius the martyrs' church.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Ninth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1995), 55.
Commentary: Pope Gregory IV (828-44) presented gifts to many institutions at Rome, including the church of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus.

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Anonymous, Lives of the Popes 106.26

In the monastery of Christ's martyrs Ss. Sergius and Bacchus called Callinicum he provided 2 fine silver chalices and 1 paten, 1 colander, 1 incense-boat, 1 censer, weighing in all 4lb.

Source of Translation: R. Davis, The Lives of the Ninth-Century Popes (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1995), 182.
Commentary: Pope Benedict III (855-58) presented silver gifts to many institutions at Rome, including the monastery of Ss. Sergius and Bacchus at Callinicum.

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© 1999, David Woods. This file may be copied for the purpose of private research only.