Claudio Ridolfi (1570-1644)
The Martyrdom of St. Sergius

Oil on canvas
Albani Diocesan Museum, Urbino, Italy

Sergius and Bacchus were Roman soldiers. When they failed to enter the Temple of Jupiter with the Emperor Maximian (286-305), he realized they were Christians and sent them for execution to Rosafa, in Mesopotamia. After torturing the two, the governor there had Bacchus whipped to death and Sergius beheaded. Later a church was built where Sergius had been buried, and his cult became widespread.

In the painting Sergius is about to be beheaded by the executioner on his left, who holds an enormous sword for the purpose. Possibly the man on the horse is the governor.

The saint's legend is summarized in Butler (IV, 58) and in the Roman Martyrology for October 7. His Latin vita can be found in the Analecta Bollandiana 14 (1895), 373-395.

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Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.