Today I would propose that the church honor two 4th Century saints who loved one another and died together: Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus, Soldiers, Martyrs, and LGTBQ Icons.
Some calendars honor Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus on October 7th, but because the Lutheran Church honors St. Muhlenburg on that day, I would offer that today, a day when no particular saint is lifted up, would be a great day to remember these two trailblazers.
Sts. Sergius and Bacchus were young nobles and high ranking legionnaires in the Roman army under Galerius. They were secretly Christian, and when this was exposed, they were arrested and told to make a sacrifice to Jupiter.
When Sts. Sergius and Bacchus refused, they were tortured.
It is reported that Sts. Sergius and Bacchus had pledged themselves to one another in love, and that in that same breath they pledged themselves to Christ, claiming that in their union they had also become one with Christ.
This oathtaking sounds very much like vows.
In the medieval era this oath was considered an act of “brotherly love,” but that moniker over their devotion to one another falls flat when compared to the sincerity of their words.
Sts. Sergius and Bacchus died at the hands of their torturers. It is reported that Bacchus died first and appeared in a vision to Sergius, saying, “My crown of justice is for you, and yours for me.” It’s interesting to note that “crowning ceremonies” were one of the ways same-gendered couples were formally joined in union in ancient Rome.
They are a reminder for me, and should be for the whole church, that LGBTQ Christians are not only not recent, but have always been, from the very beginning of the movement.
Let those with ears to hear, hear.
-icon written by Br. Robert Lenz and was first displayed at the Chicago Pride Parade in 1994
-historical bits gathered from memory and a number of sites