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The Catholic Defender: Saint Sebastian Patron of Athletes


St Sabastian became very important to me growing up as I was very active in sports from a young age and learning that St. Sabastion is the patron of Athletes, his story aided in my Catholic faith as I placed the importance of being steadfast in the faith.


St. Sebastian grew up as a Christian in Milan. In order to assist the confessors and martyrs in their sufferings, he went to Rome about the year 98 and enlisted in the army. He became an officer and a favorite of the Emperor Diocletian. Marcus and Marcellinus, twin brothers, had been imprisoned for the Faith. Sebastian seeing this, exhorted them to remain loyal to Christ.


Sebastian entered the Roman army because there he could assist the martyrs without arousing suspicion.


He is also mentioned in a sermon on Psalm 118 by 4th-century bishop Ambrose of Milan (Saint Ambrose): in his sermon, Ambrose stated that Sebastian came from Milan and that he was already venerated there at that time.


St. Sabastion had roots coming 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.


Sebastian was named captain in the praetorian guards by Emperor Diocletian, as did Emperor Maximian when Diocletian went to the East. Neither knew that Sebastian was a Christian.

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 Catholic 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.


God confirmed his words by a miracle, and many wore led to embrace the Faith, including the Prefect of Rome and his son Tiburtius. Marcus and Marcellinus met their martyrdom by being nailed by the feet to a post, and after twenty hours of suffering were shot to death by arrows. St. Sebastian, having aided many martyrs, was himself brought before the Emperor, who reproached him with ingratitude and delivered him to some archers to be shot to death.


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.


Sebastian had prudently concealed his faith, but in 286 it was detected. Diocletian reproached him for his supposed betrayal, and he commanded him to be led to a field and there to be bound to a stake so that the chosen archers would shoot arrows at him. "And the archers shot at him till he was as full of arrows as and left him there for dead." Miraculously, the arrows did not kill him.

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.


Sebastian later stood by a staircase where the emperor was to pass and harangued Diocletian for his cruelties against Christians.


Greatly astonished at finding St. Sebastian alive, the Empire ordered that St. Sebastian be seized and beaten to death, and his body thrown into the cloaca (the sewer of Rome). St. Sebastian thus suffered a double martyrdom. St. Sebastian, Pray for us.

The widow of Castulus, Irene of Rome, went to retrieve his body to bury it, and discovered he was still alive. She brought him back to her house and nursed him back to his health.


A holy lady, named Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, privately removed the body and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery of Calixtus, where now stands the Basilica of St. Sebastian


He is a patron saint of archers and athletes and of those who desire a saintly death. He was also venerated as a protector from the bubonic plague and as a patron of plague victims. According to his legend, he was born in Gaul, went to Rome, and joined


Sebastian entered the Roman army because there he could assist the martyrs without arousing suspicion.


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

Saint Sebastian is a popular male saint, especially today among athletes. In medieval times, he was regarded as a saint with a special ability to intercede to protect from plague, and devotion to him greatly increased when plague was active.


Finally he was found out, brought before Emperor Diocletian and delivered to Mauritanian archers to be shot to death. His body was pierced with arrows, and he was left for dead. But he was found still alive by those who came to bury him. He recovered, but refused to flee.


Due to his courage, strength and perseverance, Saint Sebastian is highly regarded as both a Christian saint and a martyr. Martyrs are people who have died for their beliefs, and are highly regarded in Christianity. Saint Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes, archers and soldiers.


He recovered and when the opportunity presented, he accosted the emperor denouncing him for his cruelty to Christians. Again, he was sentenced to death, beaten to death with clubs. Saint Sebastian's life demonstrates his courage and love for Jesus Christ. He valued fidelity to Christ higher than any worldly honour.


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.

One day he took up a position near where the emperor was to pass. He accosted the emperor, denouncing him for his cruelty to Christians.


(St. Sabastian died on January 20 287 in Rome and his feast day is January 20),


This time the sentence of death was carried out. Sebastian was beaten to death with clubs. His body was recovered by a Christian woman, named Lucina, and she secretly buried him in the catacombs beneath Rome.


His body, thrown into a sewer, was found by another pious woman, who dreamed that Sebastian told her to bury his remains near the catacombs. His relics are believed to be in the Basilica of San Sebastiano on the Appian Way, to which many pilgrims were attracted in the Middle Ages.


He was buried on the Appian Way, close to the catacombs that bear his name.


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.


Saint Sebastian is a very popular patron saint as he is the patron saint of Athletes and Soldiers. Due to his unwaiving commitment to Christ and the courageous way he faced his martyrdom, he serves as an example of true love of God. He is usually depicted standing in front of a tree with an arrow pierced through him.


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.


O Lord, grant us the spirit of fortitude, so that guided by the example of the martyr St. Sebastian, we may learn to bear witness to the Christian Faith and patiently support the sufferings of life. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.


Merciful Father, may the glorious intercession of Your blessed martyr Saint Sebastian be our protection. Bless our parish, named in his honor and placed under his protection. Grant all that we ask for in these days of prayer in preparation for his feast, according to your will, through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen


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