An Overview of Saint Sebastian

Saint Sebastian is a celebrated Christian saint, recognized by the Catholic church for his miraculous deeds and enduring service to Christ. Sebastian lived in the mid 200s, his death being recorded as around 288. The first detailed accounts of Saint Sebastian's service and martyrdom were commemorated by Ambrose of Milan, who lived less than a century after Sebastian's death.

The historical account of Sebastian's life is pieced together from various sermons and church documents, namely the Acta Sanctorum, which dates back to the fifth century. Sebastian was originally from Gallia Narbonensis, though he received special training, studying in Milan before being appointed as a captain of the Praetorian Guard.

While Sebastian's public life in the Roman Empire was noteworthy, it was his work as a Christian that set him apart. He served as a powerful encouragement to other Christians, most notably to Marcellian and Mark, twin brothers who were both arrested for their faith. Sebastian not only helped them stay strong even to the point of their martyrdom, but he also converted their parents, even after the couple begged their sons to recant.

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Sebastian's testimony converted a number of public officials as well, including a local prefect and a jail official, who subsequently released all his prisoners and resigned from his post. Sebastian is also attributed with several miracles during this time, including restoring a mute woman's voice.

These miraculous acts were heralded by other Christians, but raised the ire of the Emperor Diocletian himself, who had Sebastian arrested for acts against the Roman government. As punishment, Sebastian was to be executed by being shot with arrows. The archers did just that, taking Sebastian to a field and shooting him before leaving him for dead. However, when his body was retrieved, he was found to be alive. He was nursed back to health and continued his powerful testimony. His faith allowed him to continue performing miracles, including the restoration of a blind girl's sight.

Sebastian then grew even bolder, taking a stand against Diocletian, which led to his second arrest and execution. This time, Sebastian was beaten to death. When his body was retrieved, he was interred near other Christian servants.

Through his strong testimony and miraculous works, Sebastian was revered by the Catholic church. He has been represented in art and literature over the years, and Catholics still commemorate his sainthood with a feast each year on January 20.

Copyright 2010 Mark Moore