Yale University historian John Boswell has discovered that the Catholic church has been marrying gays for centuries.
Jim Duffy writes in the Irish Times that in his book "The Marriage of Likeness: Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe," Boswell describes an icon from St. Catherine's monastery on Mount Sinai which shows a typical Christian wedding, except that the "bride" and "groom" are both men-- Saint Serge and Saint Bacchus, Roman soldiers who became Christian martyrs.
In the 6th century, Severus of Antioch said, "We should not separate in speech [Serge and Bacchus] who were joined in life." In the 10th century, St. Serge is described as the "sweet companion and lover" of St. Bacchus. Their sexual orientation was openly accepted by early Christian writers. The St. Catherine's icon even shows Jesus serving as "best man."
After a 12-year search of Catholic and Orthodox church archives, Yale history professor Boswell discovered that a type of Christian homosexual "marriage" existed as late as the 18th century. Boswell found records of same-sex unions in church archives in the Vatican, St. Petersburg, Paris, Istanbul, and in Sinai, covering the 8th to the 18th centuries.
There was a ceremony called the "Office of Same Sex Union" (in 10th and 11th century Greek) or the "Order for Uniting Two Men" (in the 11th and 12th century).
In these ceremonies, everyone gathered in church, the priest blessed the couple before the altar, their right hands were joined as at heterosexual marriages, they took the Eucharist, and held a wedding banquet afterwards. This is shown in drawings of Byzantine Emperor Basil I (867-886), who married his companion John. Homosexual weddings also took place in Ireland in the late 12th/early 13th century, according to Gerald of Wales.
The 13th century Greek "Order for Solemnization of Same Sex Union" called on God to "vouchsafe unto these thy servants grace to love one another and to abide unhated and not a cause of scandal all the days of their lives, with the help of the Holy Mother of God and all thy saints." It concludes with: "And they shall kiss the Holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded."
A 14th century Serbian "Office of Same Sex Union" described a couple as laying their right hands laid on the Gospel while having a cross placed in their left hands. They then kissed each other, after which the priest gave them both communion. Dominican Jacques Goar (1601-1653) included these ceremonies in his Greek prayer books. A lesbian marriage is recorded in Dalmatia in the 18th century. In 1578 at St. John Lateran in Rome (the Pope's parish Church), 13 couples were "married" at a mass, "taking Communion together, using the same nuptial Scripture, after which they slept and ate together."
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