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History and legend
of Saint Bacchus

In the 4th  century, Dioclétien, the last Pagan Emperor, reigned on the empire which extended on all the Mediterranean circumference.

Dioclétien which, at the beginning of his reign, had been tolerant with the Christians –many occupied high military or administrative positions -  undertook to purge the army of its elements which had embraced the Christian religion.

During the autumn 303 , its Co-emperor Maximien Hercules on a journey to Samosate, capital of Comagène (province located in current Syria to the north of Alep), decided to unmask the Christians who could be among the hierarchy of the legions.

Saint Serge et Saint BacchusWith this intention, he  invited all the officers to libations in Jupiter’s honor. All came, except two Christians, Sergius and Bacchus who refused to take part in ceremonies which parodied the holy scene of Christ. At once they were condemned to die and were delivered for the execution to Antiochus, the cruelest prefect of the Byzantine Empire who chose  their torture himself.

Serge was fitted sandals whose sole had been fitted with sharp  points and he was made to run until exhaustion in front of the cart of Antiochus before being decapitated.

Vitrail Saint Bacchus à l'abbatiale Saint-Serge à AngersDue to his name, the same as the pagan god of the vine and the wine, Bacchus was thrown to the ground, was whipped and trodden upon like grape by the army. The Golden Legend says  that "two angels rose up the sky, while his blood squirted from all his body like pure grape juice".

The church canonized both and celebrates their festival on October 7 , in high season of the grape harvest.

Document de Michel Le Crétois (1813) - Couvent Saint-Serge à Maaloula - SyrieIf the name of Serge remained quite alive, the name of Bacchus was forgotten , probably because of its homonymy with the pagan god, considered to be awkward. However, many traces of its memory resisted time, in the East, for example in Cairo  : (Church Saint Bacchus), in Maaloulo - Syria  : (church Saint Serge and Saint Bacchus), in Istanbul  : (church Saint Bacchus transformed into a mosque), just as in the Occident, as the frescos in the  vault of Berze the City  (close to Mâcon) show it. We can note that Saint Bacchus is represented on a dark horse contrary to Saint Serge represented on a clear one.

Document du XIIIème siècle - Couvent Saint-Serge à Maaloula - SyrieIt is this Saint whose martyrdom  inspired a medieval poet, Geoffroy of Isle de France, who compared his torment with that inflicted to a bunch of grape, to give us the wine which was chosen by our founder as the patron saint of our Order, involved in  the crusade for the defense of the “wine vray”.

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