These pictures show the late antique church of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius) which is sometimes ascribed an early C4th, possibly pre-Constantinian, foundation date due to the exceptionally rare survival of a horseshoe-shaped altar table. This shape is usually associated with pagan altars and in this case is believed to have been made for a Christian place of worship due to the lack of drainage channels for blood sacrifices. The church also housed a large collection of icons, including an 1813 image of SS. Sergius and Bacchus by Michael of Crete. The fate of these icons is currently unclear after an attack on the church by jihadists in the course of the Syrian civil war.
St. Sergius faces eastwards on the northern arcade of the nave, directly opposite St. Bacchus on the south side. He had been identified by an inscription but is very damaged in comparison with St. Bacchus.
St. Bacchus is located on the south arcade and is believed to have faced St. Sergius across the nave, but the equestrian saint opposite has been almost entirely destroyed. He faces east and rides towards the direction in which Christ will reappear at the time of the Last Judgement.
The C5th centrally-planned martyrium at Resafa was the original resting place of the saint and the focus of the cult. Later the relics were translated to the basilica to the south east of the city and the importance of the church declined.
The colour images are from 2010.
The Church of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius) in Sadad is a Syrian Orthodox Church that dates back to late antiquity. It is principally notable for its extremely rare C18th wall paintings commissioned by Bishop Dioskoros Sarukhan, who is reported to have died in Sadad on 11th February 1769 at the age of 110.
The images are unique not only because they are they only surviving C18th cycle on the entire region, but also for the information that they give us about the veneration of local saints. The scenes include Mar Musa al-Habashi (St. Moses the Abyssinian or Ethiopian) and Mar Elian esh-Sharqi (St. Julian the Old Man) both of whom have local monasteries named after them at Qaryatayn and Nabk respectively. Whereas Mar Elian is depicted on the medieval frescoes at Deir Mar Musa, this is the earliest known depiction of Mar Musa. Other unusual scenes include Jonah and the whale and portraits of Bishop Dioskoros and other bishops. There is also a notable, apparently C19th, icon of Mar Sarkis in the church. Before the civil war the paintings were being restored by a team from the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and these images were taken in 2008 when the work was underway.
Tags: C18th, Church, Deir Mar Musa, Dioskoros Sarukhan, Fresco, Jonah, Mar Elian esh-Sharqi, Mar Musa al-Habashi, Mar Sarkis, Nabk, Qaryatayn, Sadad, St. Julian the Old Man, St. Moses the Abyssinian, St. Moses the Ethiopian, St. Sergius, Syria
These images were taken at Resafa in February 1997. It was pouring with rain and this affected the quality of the images, as did the fact that both the black and white images and the slides were developed badly in Syria. The visit was made in the company of Fr. Na'aman, a Rum Orthodox Archimandrite who ministered to all Christians in Raqqa and who appears in some of the images.
Most of the images show the basilica that dominates the city as the most substantial building still extant and that became the centre of the cult of Mar Sarkis (St. Sergius) after the partition of the city under Islamic rule. An early mosque abuts the north side of the basilica, but was not built to the same high standard and now little remains.
The rest of the pictures show the city walls and the Sura Gate (North gate) to the city.
On 7th October 1998 thousands of Syrian and Lebanese Christians converged on Resafa to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of the martyrdom of SS. Sergius and Bacchus (they were fully aware that they were one year late - this was blamed on typical Syrian lack of organisation by those asked to provide an explanation for the belated date). An ecumenical ceremony took place in the basilica and these pictures document this event.