St. John the Baptist Parish, A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church, Canberra, Australia

7 / 20 October

The Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus

These holy and wonderful martyrs and heroes of the Christian faith were at first nobles at the court of the Emperor Maximian. The Emperor himself valued them greatly for their courage, wisdom and zeal, but, when he heard that these great nobles of his were Christians, his love for them turned to fury. And once, when there was a great offering of sacrifices to idols, the Emperor summoned Sergius and Bacchus to offer sacrifice together with him, and they openly refused to obey him in this. Beside himself with anger, the Emperor ordered that their robes, rings and marks of eminence be stripped from them and they be dressed in women's clothing. He then put iron yokes on their necks and led them thus through the streets of Rome, to be mocked by each and all. The Emperor then sent them to Asia, to Antiochus the governor, for torture. Antiochus had achieved his distinguished rank with the help of Sergius and Bacchus, who had at one time recommended him to the Emperor. When Antiochus began to urge them to deny Christ and save themselves from dishonourable suffering and death, the two saints replied: 'Both honour and dishonour, both life and death—all are one to him who seeks the heavenly Kingdom.' Antiochus threw Sergius into prison and ordered that Bacchus be tortured first. The servants took turns in beating holy Bacchus until his whole body was broken into fragments. His holy spirit went forth from his broken and bloodstained body and was borne to the Lord by angels. St Bacchus suffered in the town of Varvallis. Then holy Sergius was led out. Iron shoes studded with nails were put on his feet, and he was driven out into the Syrian town of Resapha, and there beheaded with the sword. His soul went to Paradise where, together with his friend Bacchus, he received the wreath of immortal glory from Christ his King and Lord. These two glorious knights suffered for the Christian faith in about 303.

Holy Martyr Princess Osyth of Crich, England (died 653 AD)

She was an English saint. Though she may be entirely legendary, she is commemorated in the village of St. Osyth, Essex near Colchester. Alternative spellings of her name include "Othith" and "Ositha". Born in Quarrendon, Buckinghamshire (at that time part of Mercia), she was the daughter of Frithwald, a sub-king of Mercia in Surrey, and was the niece of St. Edith and Saint Edburga of Bicester. Her mother was Wilburga, the daughter of the pagan King Penda of Mercia. Raised in a convent in Warwickshire under the direction of Saint Modwen[1], her ambition was to become an abbess, but she was too important as a dynastic pawn to be set aside: forced by her father into a dynastic marriage with King Sighere of Essex. She did her dynastic duty and produced him a son, then, eventually, perhaps after Sighere's death, she established a convent at place called Chich, in Essex, where she ruled as first abbess. She was murdered by Danish Viking marauders in 653.

On the same day: The Holy Martyr Polychronius; St. Dubtach, bishop of Artmagh (513)

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