Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Short Cuts

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online

Image of St. Sebastian

Facts

Feastday: January 20

Patron of soldiers, athletes, and those who desire a saintly death

Death: 268


Nothing is known about St. Sebastian's youth other than the fact he may have come from southern France and he was educated in Milan. He joined the Roman Army in 283 AD, ostensibly to be of service to other Christians who were being persecuted by the Romans. St. Sebastian distinguished himself and for his excellent service, he was promoted to serve in the Praetorian Guard to protect Emperor Diocletian.

While serving as a Praetorian Guard, Marcus and Marcellian, twin brothers, were imprisoned for refusing to make public sacrifices to the Roman gods. The brothers were deacons of the Christian Church. During their imprisonment, their parents visited them to implore them to renounce Christianity. However, St. Sebastian convinced both parents to convert to Christianity. St. Sebastian also converted several other prominent individuals, including the local prefect.

This led to his discovery and he was reported as a Christian to Emperor Diocletian in 286. The Emperor, who was already infamous for ordering the deaths of hundreds of Christians, scolded Sebastian and ordered him to be killed by having him tied to a stake on a training field and used as target practice.

Archers riddled his body with arrows, his body was described as, "full of arrows as an urchin." Believed to be dead, the archers left his body for retrieval and burial. He was recovered by Irene of Rome, whose Christian husband was a servant to Diocletian and also martyred. Irene discovered that Sebastian was still living and she hid him and nursed him back to health.

Once well, Sebastian went in search of Diocletian to surprise him. He managed to catch Diocletian by a stairwell and proceeded to criticize him loudly and publically for his persecution of the Christians. Diocletian, surprised that Sebastian was still alive, was immediately taken aback, but recovered his composure. This time, he would not permit Sebastian to escape with his life. He ordered his former guard to be beaten to death with clubs, then thrown into the sewers.

His body was recovered by a Christian woman, named Lucina, and she secretly buried him in the catacombs beneath Rome.

Nearly 80 years after his death, around 367, his remains were moved to a basilica in Rome, built by Pope Damasus I. His body, or at least some relics from his body were reportedly removed and shared with a community of monks in France. His cranium was sent to a German monastery where it was placed in a special silver case in 934. The relic remains in its case today in a special reliquary in Ebersberg.

St. Sebastian was commonly invoked as a protector against the plague. According to historical records, he defended the city of Rome against the plague in 680. His association with the plague could be because he survived being shot full of arrows and in pagan belief, pestilence was delivered by arrows shot by the gods above. Even Christian Romans would appreciate this symbolism. That symbolism is even captured in artwork as late as the Renaissance, where artists painted plague victims with black arrows in their body.

In artwork, St. Sebastian is depicted with arrows shot into his body, often tied to a post or a tree. His second execution is virtually never depicted.

St. Sebastian is the patron saint of soldiers, athletes, and those who desire a saintly death.



More about St. Sebastian from Wikipedia

St. Sebastian Comments



More Saints






Browse Saints by Category


Popular Saints

Rank

Saint

55.

Image of St. Agatha

St. Agatha

Although we have evidence that Agatha was venerated at least as far back as the sixth century, the only facts we have about her are that she was born in Sicily and died there a martyr. ... continue reading

56.

Image of St. Jerome

St. Jerome

St. Jerome, who was born Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius, was the most learned of the Fathers of the Western Church. He was born about the year 342 at Stridonius, a small town at the head ... continue reading

57.

Image of St. Stephen

St. Stephen

Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Bartholomew

St. Bartholomew

St. Bartholomew, 1st. century, one of the 12. All that is known of him with certainty is that he is mentioned in the synoptic gospels and Acts as one of the twelve apostles. His name, a ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Required


Female Saints

Image of Bl.Teresa of Calcutta

Bl.Teresa of Calcutta

The remarkable woman who would be known as Mother Theresa began life named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. Born on August 26, 1910 in Skopje, she was the youngest child born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, Receiving her First Communion at the age of five, she was confirmed in ... continue reading

More Female Saints



Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts

Angels

Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading



Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Barbara

St. Barbara

Barbara lived in the 4th century and brought up as a heathen. A tyrannical father, Dioscorus, had kept her jealously secluded in a lonely tower which he had built for that purpose. Here, in her forced solitude, she gave herself to prayer and study, and contrived to ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Martin of Tours

St. Martin of Tours

When Sulpicius Severus first met Martin of Tours he was stunned. Not only did the bishop offer him hospitality at his residence -- a monk's cell in the wilderness instead of a palace -- but Martin washed Sulpicius' hands before dinner and his feet in the evening. But ... continue reading



Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of

Clare of Assisi as Model: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Calls for Women of Courage to Renew the Church

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In her convent of San Damiano, Clare heroically practiced the virtues that should characterize all Christians: humility, a spirit of piety and penance, and charity.  Her fame of sanctity and the prodigies that came about thanks to her intervention led Pope Alexander ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 21:9-14
9 One of the seven angels that had the seven bowls full of the seven ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18
10 All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh, and your faithful shall ... Read More

Gospel, John 1:45-51
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found him of whom ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 24th, 2016 Image

St. Bartholomew
August 24: St. Bartholomew, 1st. century, one of the 12. ... Read More