The only documented facts that we have on Saint Sebastian concern his martyrdom, though there are legends concerning him. He was probably born at Narbonne, Gaul, and became a Roman soldier around the year 283. Being a Christian in the Roman army was a difficult thing, and as such, Sebastian had to be very careful. He would assist his brothers in the faith as much as he could and, in secret, perform many acts of love and charity for others, especially aiding fellow Christians in any way he could.
When it was discovered that he was a Christian, he was handed over to the Mauretanian archers and it is said that they pierced him with many arrows. He was left for dead; however, the widow of Saint Castulus found him still alive and was able to help him recover from his wounds. Not long after this Sebastian confronted the emperor about his cruelty to Christians and on the emperor’s orders was clubbed to death.
Saint Sebastian was buried on the Appian Way. He has become the patron saint of archers, athletes, and soldiers. Many also pray to him for protection against plagues. Sebastian is often depicted in pictures as a man with a full beard in court attire.
It is said that Sebastian was a good friend and example to Marcus and Marcellian, encouraging them to keep the faith during the terrible persecutions they were enduring.
From Johnnette Benkovic’s Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day
If there are many persecutions, there are many testings; where there are many crowns of victory, there are many trials of strength. It is then to your advantage if there are many persecutors; among many persecutions you may more easily find a path to victory.
— From a homily of St. Ambrose on St. Sebastian
What “path to victory” have I found in past persecutions? How does this help me seek the path to victory in my current trial?
We pray for your encouragement and inspiration, Saint Sebastian, when we are undergoing trials and tribulations. Please pray that God will give us the grace to endure to the end. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
- St. Fabian (250), Pope, Martyr
image: Saint Sebastian. Engraving by G. Cecchi after G.F. Barbieri, Wellcome Images / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)