Friday, January 20, 2012

Hail, Sebastian, martyr

"St. Sebastian," by Della Robbia
Today is the feast of St. Sebastian (died circa 286 AD).   Sebastian was martyred during the Diocletian persecution, and one of the seven chief churches of Rome was erected above his grave in 367 AD.  According to St. Ambrose, the saintly archbishop of Milan (d. 397 AD), Sebastian was from Milan, and was venerated there even in St. Ambrose's day.  There is a pious story that Sebastian was an officer of the imperial guard, and after being arrested for being a Christian, was handed over to Mauretanian archers for execution.  The archers duly shot Sebastian full of arrows, but he was healed by St. Irene.  The Catholic Encyclopedia calls this story "unhistorical and unworthy of belief."   However, since the Renaissance, this story has frequently been deemed worthy of artistic depiction, a famous example of which is displayed above.

St. Sebastian, pray for us.

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