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.
Saint Feast Days by Month
Thomas More was born in London on February 7, 1478. His father, Sir John More, was a lawyer and judge who rose to prominence during the reign of Edward IV. His connections and wealth would help his ... continue readingMore Saint of the Day
St. Angela Merici was an Italian religious educator and founder of the Ursulines whose deep prayer life and relationship with the Lord bore the fruit of mystical encounters with God. She was born on March 21, 1474 in Desenzano, a small town on the shore of Lake Garda ... continue readingMore Female Saints
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
St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his ... continue reading
"I was born in the way of truth: though my childhood was unaware of the greatness of the benefit, I knew it when trial came." Ephrem (or Eprhaim) the Syrian left us hundreds of hymns and poems on the faith that inflamed and inspired the whole Church, but few facts ... continue reading
Christians who breathed a sigh of relief when Constantine proclaimed Christianity the state religion, believing this would end the bloodshed and martyrdom. But it was all too short a time until they were facing persecution once more -- from others who claimed to be ... continue reading
By CNA/EWTN News
In June 1978 the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, went to the Vatican to meet with the Bishop of Rome, Paul VI. At that meeting, the Pope encouraged his fellow bishop to help the Salvadoran people "on the basis of a great love." Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - ... continue readingMore Christian Saints & Heroes
More Christian Saints & Heroes
by Catholic Online
- Pope Francis has a plan to help refugees, and halt the tide of ...
- Pope Francis: Take in refugees, invest in poor countries
- St. Joseph Cafasso: Saint of the Day for Saturday, June 23, 2018
- Daily Readings for Saturday, June 23, 2018
- The Catholic Church's Role with Refugees in the U.S.
- Living the Catholic Way: The Church HD Video
- St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher: Catholic Martyrs
- pictures of saints
- john the baptist
- saint anne
- hail holy queen
- saint elizabeth
- saint paul
- saint christopher
- st mary
- nicene creed
- our lady of guadalupe
- saint francis of assisi
- young children
- Saint Nicole
- st. michael
- saint francis
- Living Words with Deacon Kieth Fournier - The Apostle Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians HD
- Living Words with Deacon Keith Fournier - The Apostle Paul's words to the Galatians HD
- Living Words with Deacon Keith Fournier - John 3:16 HD
- Daily Reading for Sunday, June 24th, 2018 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education