Saints of the Day – Sergius I, Pope

portrait of Saint Sergius I taken from 'Effigies Pontificum Romanorum Dominici Basae'Article

Born at Palermo, Italy; died in Rome, September 7, 701. Saint Sergius, the son of a Syrian merchant, was raised in Palermo and educated at Rome, where he became a priest. He succeeded Pope Conon on December 15, 687, despite the claims of Pascal and Theodosius, when he was supported by the exarch John of Ravenna. However, Sergius was forced to pay John the amount of the bribe promised by Pascal to the exarch to support his (Pascal’s) nomination. In 689, Sergius baptized Saint Caedwalla, king of the West Saxons. He consecrated Saint Willibrord bishop in 695 and encouraged the English missionaries in Germany and Friesland. He also defended Saint Wilfrid.

A storm was raised in 693 when Sergius refused to sign the decrees of the Council of Trullanum, which had been convened the previous year by Emperor Justinian II. Although there was only one Western bishop in attendance, the council had passed canons applicable to the whole Church. If Sergius accepted these decrees, it would have meant that Constantinople was on an ecclesiastical level with Rome. Hoping to force Sergius to sign, the emperor sent Zachary, the commander of his bodyguard, to Rome to bring Sergius to Constantinople. The people of Rome and Ravenna resisted Zachary, and forced him to seek the protection of the pope. Eventually he was forced from the city. The issue was settled when Justinian was deposed in 695.

Pope Saint Sergius, who had attended the schola cantorum in Rome, is also remembered for encouraging liturgical music and decreeing that the Agnus Dei be sung at Mass (Benedictines, Delaney).

In art, Saint Sergius is shown sleeping as an angel brings him the episcopal insignia for Bishop Saint Hubert of Liège (Roeder).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 26 July 2020. Web. 12 June 2021. <>