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St. Sebastian

St. Sebastian by Br. Arturo Olivas, OFS

Artist Narrative:

San Sebastian was a 3rd century soldier from Gaul who had risen to the ranks of captain of the Praetorian guard and served as such under Maximian. He converted to Christianity and assisted fellow Christians who suffered terrible persecutions by the Romans. He hid his religion but ultimately was discovered and condemned to be shot with arrows. Sebastian survived the attempted execution and returned to helping other Christians. Enraged by Sebastian’s persistence in the faith Diocletian had Sebastian clubbed to death and tossed his body into a sewer.

San Sebastian has been a popular subject of religious art and is frequently shown tied to a tree or column and shot with arrows. He is patron of athletes and victims of AIDS.

His feast day is January 20.

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Sebastian was the son of a wealthy Roman family. He was educated in Milan and became an officer of the Imperial Roman army, and captain of the guard. Sebastian was the favorite of Diocletian. During Diocletian's persecution of the Christians, Sebastian visited them in prison, bringing supplies and comfort. He was reported to have healed the wife of a brother soldier by making the Sign of the Cross over her. Sebastian converted soldiers and a governor.

Charged as a Christian, Sebastian was tied to a tree, shot with arrows, and left for dead. He survived, recovered, and returned to preach to Diocletian. The emperor then had him beaten to death.

During the 14th century, the random nature of infection with the Black Death caused people to liken the plague to their villages being shot by an army of nature's archers. In desperation, they prayed for the intercession of a saint associated with archers, and St. Sebastian became associated with the plague.

Born: Narbonne, Gaul

Died: Martyred c.288 at Rome