Feast Day : September 8
Sergius, son of the Syrian merchant Tiberius, was born at Palermo, Italy. He was educated in Rome at the schola cantorum (church choir school). He was ordained a priest by Pope St. Leo II (r. 682–683) and served as the titular priest of Sta. Susanna before being elected the successor of Pope Conon (r. 686–687) on December 15, 687. His elevation to the Chair of St. Peter came not without controversy, however. As Pope Conon lay on his deathbed, his archdeacon, Pascal, promised the exarch John of Ravenna a considerable sum of money to bring about his election. Upon Conon’s death, Pascal was duly elected by one faction of the Roman Church, while another elected the archpriest Theodosius, and the majority of the clerics and laity went for Sergius. Theodosius quickly bowed to Sergius, and his supporters stormed the Lateran Palace and had him consecrated. Pascal appealed to John of Ravenna, who came to Rome, but approved Sergius’s election only when he had been paid the bribe he had been promised by Pascal. Sergius was active in promoting the interests of the Church in England. In 689, he baptized St. Caedwalla, king of the West Saxons. In 695, he consecrated St. Willibroard bishop and sent him as a missionary to the Frisians (Germans). Sergius is also remembered for his refusal to endorse the Quintisext (Trullanum) Council of 692, at which the Greek Church decreed that priests and deacons who had married before their ordinations could keep their wives, and that also sought to place the patriarch of Constantinople on equal footing with the bishop of Rome. Sergius’s rejection of the council’s acts led Emperor Justinian II to dispatch an officer to bring him to Constantinople. The Roman people protected the pope, but the crisis came to an end only when Justinian II was deposed in 695. Sergius repaired and adorned several Roman basilicas, added the Agnus Dei to the Mass, inaugurated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and instituted processions in feasts associated with the Theotokos. He died in Rome on the seventh or eighth of September 701. In art, Sergius is shown sleeping as an angel brings him the episcopal insignia for Bishop Saint Hubert of Liège.