St. Sergious And Bacchus Church
The church of St. Sergio (also known as St. Sergius or Abu Serga) was built in the center of the Ancient Roman fort of Babylon. It is one of the sites visited by the Holy Family during their escape from King Herod to the land of Egypt.
The church likely dates back to the 5th century, although some historians believe it was built in the 8th century.
The origin of Saint Sergius is uncertain, but there are two saints with the same name. The first one was an Egyptian who died during intense Christian persecution, along with his father and sister. People today celebrate his memory every year on February 7th. The second one was a servant of the Roman Emperor Maximilian, who was martyred in Syria at the beginning of the 4th Century.
The church is shaped like a basilica, with a narthex, nave, and two aisles. The aisles are separated from the nave by 12 columns with Corinthian capitals: 10 stone columns, one marble column, and one rosette granite column.
There are 3 Sanctuaries on the east side; each Sanctuary contains an altar with a wooden dome supported by four marble columns. The dome of each altar has religious scenes of Christ, Angels, and the four evangelists. A pulpit on the northeast side of the nave is made of marble, though initially, it was made of wood, encrusted with ebony and ivory.
The pulpit is used once a year during Great Friday prayers. The central Sanctuary has a 13th-century wooden screen encrusted with ebony and ivory panels. The church's frieze and icons are remarkable; most date to the 15th and 16th Centuries, though some were damaged and restored later.
One of the most critical locations in this church is the Cave in which the Holy Family stayed during their journey into Egypt. It has a nave and two aisles, and the ceiling is domed. At the end of the southern aisle of the Cave is a baptistery.
On the 1st of June each year, the church of St. Sergio commemorates the arrival of the Holy Family by having prayers inside the Cave of the church.