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Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian
  • Century: 3rd Century
  • Patronage: Soldiers, Plagues, Archers, Holy Christian Death, Athletes
  • Feast Day: January 20th

St. Sebastian was a martyr in the early Church, who was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian’s persecution of the Christian.  The details of St. Sebastian’s martyrdom were first spoken of by the 4th century Bishop Ambrose of Milan, now St. Ambrose. According to St. Ambrose he was a man who was taught in Milan and appointed as a captain of the Praetorian Guard under Diocletian and Maximian, who were unaware that he was a Christian.  He was said to have cured a women of her muteness, simply by his presence.  78 people were converted instantly when this happened.  

According to tradition, two brothers Mark and Marcellian, twins and Deacons, where in prison for not denouncing God.  They were from a distinguished family and were both married, living in Rome.  The two brothers refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and were arrested.  They were visited by their father and mother, Tranquillinus and Martia, to persuade them to renounce Christianity.  Sebastian ended up converting Tranquillinus and Martia, as well as others there, totaling 16.    

Diocletian was angry that St. Sebastian betrayed him, and commanded him to be led to a field, bound to a stake, and to be shot at with arrows.  “And the archers shot at him till he was as full of arrows as a urchin”, leaving him there for dead.  Miraculously the arrows did not kill him.  A widow, Irene of Rome, went to retrieve his body and bury it, and found he was still alive.  She brought him back to her house and nursed him back to health.  Some of her other residents wanted proof he was a Christian, and one was a little blind girl.  Sebastian asked her “Do you wish to be with God”, and made the sign of the Cross on her head.  She said “yes” and immediately regained her sight.  

St. Sebastian later stood on the steps of the widow’s house and waved as Diocletian passed by.  The emperor was surprised and angry and ordered Sebastian to be beaten to death and his body thrown into a trash pit.  But in an apparition St. Sebastian appeard to a Christian widow, and told her where they might find his body.  He asked that it be found and told her to bury it “at the catacombs by the Apostles”.  St. Sebastian’s remains are currently housed in Rome in the “Basilica Apostolorum”, built by Pope Damasus I, on the provisional tomb of St. Peter and St. Paul.  Because St. Sebastian had been thought to have been killed by arrows, and miraculously didn’t die, and later was killed by the same Emperor by being beaten to death, he is often referred to as the saint that was martyred twice.  

Practical Take Away

St. Sebastian was a Christian from the early Church that worked as a guard for the emperor Diocletian.  Diocletian had no idea that he was a Christian.  St. Sebastian converted many people in the prison while guarding them, and performed many miracles.  Eventually Doicletian found out and ordered him to be shot to death with arrows.  He miraculously survived and continued to convert and heal.  He again was caught by Diocletian and he was beaten to death.  He is known as the saint who was martyred twice.