Adelphopoiia Rite

A Same Gender Union from the Eastern Orthodox Church
Translation by Nicholas Zymaris
Published in 1647
Sergius and Bacchus

This service is a rite of the Eastern Orthodox Church dating from very early times and assuming its present form between the fourth and ninth centuries AD. This service is translated from the Euchologion of Jacobus Goar, which was printed in 1647 and revised in 1730. A facsimile of the 1730 edition, published in Graz, Austria, in 1960, is the edition available in many theological libraries. With the rising influence of western ideas in recent centuries, this rite ceased to be practiced widely and was largely forgotten or ignored except in isolated areas, most notably Albania and other areas in the Balkans, where it flourished throughout the nineteenth century and up to at least 1935. Both men and women were united with this rite or similar ones.

This rite is called “spiritual” because the relationship between spiritual brothers is not one of blood-relation but of the Holy Spirit, and also to distinguish the rite from blood-brotherhood, which the Church opposed. In the service, the saint-martyrs Sergius and Bacchus are invoked, who were united in spiritual brotherhood “not bound by the law of nature but by the example of faith in the Holy Spirit”. These saints were tortured and martyred late in the third century AD. when they refused to worship the emperor’s idols. In their biography by Simeon Metaphrastes (available in J.P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 115, pp. 1005-1032) they are described as sweet companions and lovers to each other.”

“This rite is incorporated into the Divine Liturgy. It begins with the usual blessing and prayers of a Liturgy. During the Great Synapte, petitions for the couple to be united in spiritual brotherhood are added to the usual petitions. After the First Antiphon, two special prayers are said for the couple, after which they kiss the Gospel Book and each other. After the priest sings a hymn, the Liturgy continues at “Have mercy on us, O God .. “. Accounts of the use of this rite (such as Nacke, _Jahrbuch fuer sexuelle Zwischenstufen_ 9 (1908),. 328) confirm that the spiritual brothers receive Holy Communion together, thereby forming the sacramental bond in this union. However, Goar mentions in a footnote that in some manuscripts, the couple is only blessed with holy water.”

PRIEST: Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (3 times).
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
All-Holy Trinity, have mercy on us.
Lord forgive our sins.
Master, pardon our transgressions.
Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for your name’s sake.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
(After this, the priest says the Troparion.)
Save, O Lord, your servants, and bless your inheritance.
(And the two who are about to be joined together in brotherly unity place their hands on the holy Gospel book, which has been prepared and placed on the table. And they hold in their hands lighted candles.)
(And the priest says the following, so that it is heard from above:
Save, O Lord, your servants. Followed by the Troparion of the day
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Holy Apostles, intercede with the merciful God to grant our souls forgiveness of sins.
Now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Through the intercessions, O Lord, of all the saints and of the
Theotokos, grant us your peace and have mercy upon us, only merciful One.


(The responses of “Lord, have mercy” are understood.)
In peace let us pray to the Lord.
For the peace that is from above, and for the salvation of our souls, let us pray to the Lord.
For the peace of the entire world, the welfare of the holy churches of God, and the union of all of them, let us pray to the Lord.
For this holy house, and for those who enter it with faith, reverence, and fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.
For our Archbishop, the honorable priesthood, the deacons in Christ, and all of the clergy and laity, let us pray to the Lord.
For the servants of God who have approached to be blessed by Him, and for their love (agapesis) in God, let us pray to the Lord.
That they may be given full knowledge of the apostolic unity, let us pray to the Lord.
That they may be granted a faith unashamed, a love unfeigned, let us pray to the Lord.
That they may be deemed worthy to glory in the honorable Cross, let us pray to the Lord.
That both they and we may be delivered from all affliction, wrath, and distress, let us pray to the Lord.
Help us, save us, have mercy on us and keep us, O God, by your grace.
PRIEST: Having called to remembrance our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commend ourselves and one another, and all our life unto Christ our God.
PEOPLE: To You, O Lord.
PRIEST (quietly): O Lord our God, whose might is beyond compare, whose glory is incomprehensible, whose mercy is infinite, and whose love toward mankind is ineffable; in Your tender compassion look down upon us Yourself, O Master, and upon this holy house, and grant us and those who pray with us Your rich mercies and compassion.
PRIEST (aloud): For to You are due all glory, honor, and worship; to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages.
PRIEST: Let us pray to the Lord.
Lord our God, who has granted us all things for salvation, and who has commanded us to love one another and to forgive each others’ transgressions; now You Yourself, Master and Lover of mankind, to these Your servants who have loved each other with spiritual love, and who approach Your holy temple to be blessed by You, grant to them a faith unashamed, a love unfeigned. And as You gave Your holy disciples Your own peace, also grant these all the petitions for salvation, and eternal life. For You are a merciful and loving God, and to You we ascribe glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us pray to the Lord.
Lord our God, the omnipotent, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, who made man according to Your image and likeness, who was well-disposed to Your holy martyrs Sergius and Bacchus becoming brothers, not bound by the law of nature but by the example of faith of the Holy Spirit; Master, do send down Your Holy Spirit upon Your servants who have approached this temple to be blessed. Grant them a faith unashamed, a love unfeigned, and that they may be without hatred and scandal all the days of their lives. Through the prayers of Your immaculate Mother and of all the Saints. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages.
(And with the table made ready in the middle of the church, they place the holy Gospel upon it. And they kiss the Holy Gospel, and each other.)
THEN THE PRIEST SINGS: By the union of love the apostles join in the praying to the Master of all; themselves committed to Christ, they extended their beautiful feet, announcing the good news of peace to everyone.
PRIEST: Have mercy on us, O God.

(And continues the Liturgy.)

Source:  Adelphopoiia Rite (version one)

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

3 responses to “Adelphopoiia Rite

  • Jay M.

    I'm sure the evangelicals would call the Eastern Orthodox "pagan" or "heathen" not realizing that there could be EO cathedrals very near them, since this is not a dead religion by any means. Nice to know there are religions that recognize us!Peace <3Jay

  • silvereagle

    Interesting that the church acually blessed and condoned the "sprititual brotherhood" of the men or women participating in the rite. The 'sacremtal bond in the union', the placement of their hands on the Bible, the blessings prayed over them,"not bound by the law of nature but by the example of faith of the Holy Spirit", "a love unfeigned". All of this comes short of "marriage" as is sought/demanded today by the 'gay' population.It would appear to more on the order of a recognition that two people of the same sex can in fact have a church blessed association if you will, but it is not called "a marriage" as we think of the term today.

  • JoeBlow

    Jay, they may think of them as heathens, but if it were not for the Eastern Orthodox and the Byzantine emperors, Christianity would never have caught on like it did.Silvereagle, you are right that it does come short of a marriage in today's term, but marriages of love are relatively new conceptions resulting from mainly women't liberation during the early and mid twentieth century. For most of world history, marriage was more commonly about business arrangements than about love. The Adelphopoiia Rite is actually closer to a modern definition of marriage than the more traditional definition throughout world history.

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