Skip to comments.St. Sergius Church - site of oldest altar
Posted on 06/07/2005 1:53:16 PM PDT by NYer
About our church here in Maaloula, it must be built before 325 A.D. for three reasons:
Infact, the main and first proof is this altar inside made of marble; it has a border semi-circular which is a pagan architecture. Pagans used such borders in their altars to forbid the blood of sacrifices to go on the ground, so they used to make a hole in the middle to drain it properly; they used also to sculpt or design on this border some illustrations of animals to be sacrified. The Church used this architecture at the beginning before it had its own, but with two important differences: christian altars dont have a hole for blood neither the designs of animals on the border. So our altar here could never be pagan but it was always made by christians with an external pagan form. Now, in 313 A.D. with Costantine the Great, the church began to think how to have its own ecclesiastical architecture to make more difference between pagans and christians, thats why the first Council of Nicea (today Iznik in Turkey), gathered in 325 A.D., decided not to build anymore altars with a pagan architecture but flat altars. This is the main proof that the church existed before this decision, before 325 A.D.
N.B. Just to know that the triangular small hole is not the hole for blood as many people think, but this is the place where christians used to put the relics which consacrate the altar for prayer, and its triangular as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.
A second proof is the bishop Eutichius who took part in this Ecumenical Council of Nicea, his name is mentioned as the bishop of st. Sergius in Maaloula.
The third proof is the wood inside the walls; a piece of it was tested in Germany by the radioactive carbon forteen C14, its about 2000 years old. This technic was used to hold well the stones in the wall especially during the earthquakes.
Beyond all this, the church was built on the ruines of a pagan temple dedicated to Appolon that was destroyed in the the first christian centuries, after Maaloula became christian grace to saint Thecla disciple of st. Paul. The graved part in the rock, the small door, the corns in the iconostasis and the capitals inside the walls are rests of that pagan temple.
1- Main Altar.
2- Side Altar.
5- Main Porch.
6- Side Porch.
A fascinating look at the earliest church.
Beyond all this, the church was built on the ruines of a pagan temple dedicated to Appolon ...I'm pretty sure they mean Apollon.
Is it the same as St. Sergius and Bacchus, whose interior is depicted elsewhere on the website?
Really? They were both soldiers. That's the "union" that was being referred to.
Here is a quote from the website:
"Feast Day October 7
"Sergius -in Arabic Sarkis- & Bacchus were soldiers in the Roman army, attached to the household of the Emperor Maximianus.They were Christians. -- one of history's most poignant ironies, given the Roman church's unflinching campaign against gay love."
Sergius and Bacchus
Sergius and Bacchus
Martyrs, d. in the Diocletian persecution in Coele-Syria about 303. Their martyrdom is well authenticated by the earliest martyrologies 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 Church calendar gives the two saints Marcellus and Apuleius on the same day as Sergius and Bacchus. They are said to have been converted 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.
I don't think the language at the Syrian site really suggests that. They say that Sergius and Bacchus were mocked as gay lovers and at the same time Christians, which is incoherent. The account that the church gives merely suggests they were friends.
See post #7.
It does not convince me that the church believes they were gay. The "irony" they refer to is that they were mocked as gay Christians. It is a possibility, of course, that they were, but it does not indict the church any, -- they just report what the historical record says.
It's possible that your interpretation is right. The English of the website isn't very good, and it may be that the folks who wrote what I quoted didn't mean it quite the way it came out.
However, the way it is actually written, the fairest reading of it is that it is ironic that the Roman Church is just so darned "anti-gay," since here, these two martyrs were gay lovers.
But you could be right that this is not what was meant by the individuals who put up the site and wrote the copy.
However, because I'm uncertain of what they actually were trying to say, I think with seamole, I'll be cautious regarding the site.
Be cautious of what? The church is of interest because of its history. It will remain so even if somebody in charge of their website has unorthodox views on homosexuality.
I'm saddened to think that the church dedicated to these martyrs for the faith has fallen prey to this kind of scurrilous revisionism.
Thank you for being the voice of reason on this thread.
Maalaloula might be ??where??
I think the information about the altar is very interesting.
But I think that seamole brought up a good point that one might wish to be cautious with the website. Look, I wouldn't let my 10 year-old read the page of this site speaking about the ironies involved with gay love.
"I don't see any criticism of his other poor terminology or translation."
Well, that's because it isn't my intention to criticize the webmaster for his poor terminology or translation. That would be uncharitable.
In this case, I raised the point of perhaps a deficiency in translation so that I could show how we might GIVE THE FELLOW THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT concerning what he wrote. Better to be a poor writer of English than one who endorses homosexual relations. I don't think God will keep anyone out of Heaven for the former.
Personally, I appreciated seamole's heads-up about the rest of the site. When I find cool stuff on the web, especially cool CATHOLIC stuff, I often show it to my sons. I wouldn't have appreciated clicking on the page about Ss. Sergius and Bacchus and having my older son read aloud to my younger son about the ironies of gay love vis-a-vis these two saints. Whether it's a translation problem or not, it would have been quite inappropriate.
Again, thanks, seamole, for pointing out the difficulty with this site.
The only reason I brought up the Church of Sergius and Bacchus is because it had its exterior depicted, and I was wondering about the exterior of the church of the altar. So, do you know if that is the same church?
I am sorry it lead to the hijacking of the thread, it was not my intention. For the record, I do not have plans to travel to Syria for spiritual instruction in the near future, although if I do, I promise to steer clear of gay indoctrination websites.
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