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The first sacral building on the site of the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus was erected during the time of the pontificate of Pope Leo III (795-816). The church was dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus, a high-ranking military who martyred for Emperor Maximilian in 303. In the 9th century in Rome there were five churches dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus, but today their names are only Ukrainian parish.

church pictures

Mural depicting Saints Sergius and Bacchus

The church for centuries belonged to different monasteries, while Pope Urban VIII in the XVII century did not transfer it to the Ukrainians. The history of the modern church is closely connected with Cardinal Antonio Barberini (1596 – 1646), brother of Pope Urban VIII. He was a patron of the arts for many Roman churches and sponsored the restructuring of the old Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, and also acquired buildings adjacent to it for the needs of Ukrainians. A commemorative inscription above the temple portico testifies to his generous donation.


Cardinal Antonio Barberini

The modern interior of the church is the result of several restorations. The first was done in the XVII century on the instructions of the Kyiv Metropolitan Rafail Korsak (1637 – 1640). His gravestone is in the center of the temple floor. The following restoration and partial restructuring took place during the 18th century thanks to the generous support of numerous pilgrims who came here to pray for the miraculous icon of the Holy Mother of God in Zhirovitsa.


The facade of the temple received its present appearance in 1896 during the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII (1878 – 1903), who, together with the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, created the papal college, a seminary for Ukrainians.

pope leo

Pope Leo XIII

Franz Joseph

Emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Franz Joseph I

On the facade of the temple there are three entries about the timing of restorations and patrons of the temple. The lower one is about patronage in 1641 by Cardinal Antonio Barberini, the middle one is about Pope Leo XIII from 1896, the upper one is about Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyi in 1969-1973. The coats of arms of Barberini and Vasilians are depicted on the middle level.

Now in the church are two valuable relics. This is part of the relics of the martyrs Sergius and Bacchus, as well as the miraculous icon of the Zhirovitsk Mother of God, which was found during restoration in 1718 under a layer of plaster.

Under the church there is a dungeon that is under the careful supervision of Roman archaeological structures. It is considered one of the most ancient open caves of Rome. Once there were burials and even now it is possible to see immured skulls in it.

The Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus is the oldest attraction of Ukraine abroad.