FEast: Jan. 20th
athletes, soldiers, plagues
Nothing is known of Sebastian's early life, and most of the legends about his later life cannot be confirmed, but he has been venerated as a saint for centuries.
Sebastian was a soldier in Diocletian's Roman army. It is said that while in it, he practiced his faith secretly, and had only joined in the first place to be able to assist Christian martyrs without raising suspicion. He was so courageous and skillful, however, that he quickly rose through the ranks and possibly even became an officer or came to know Diocletian personally.
There are many stories about Sebastian converting other soldiers and their families, as well as ones about him visiting imprisoned Christians. There is even a story about him healing the wife of another soldier simply by making the sign of the cross over her.
Around the year 286, however, Sebastian's faith was found out. Diocletian was outraged and ordered his soldiers to tie Sebastian up to a tree and shoot him with their arrows. He was so full of arrows, apparently, that he had the appearance of a sea urchin, and they left him for dead.
Sebastian was discovered by St. Irene, however, whose husband had also served Diocletian and had been martyred for his faith as well. Sebastian was able to survive the wounds, miraculously, thanks to her care.
Once he recovered, however, instead of fleeing, Sebastian went to condemn Diocletian's actions. He waited by a staircase until he passed by, and then he stepped out, demanding that he stop this murder of Christians. Though Diocletian was surprised to see him and that he was still alive, he quickly ordered Sebastian be clubbed to death then and there. His body was then thrown into the sewers until a Christian woman named Lucy recovered it and buried it in a catacomb along the Appian Way.
There are a few reasons for Sebastian's patronage of plagues - the first is that medieval towns compared plague arrivals to their people being shot down by arrows since they struck rapidly and silently. Another is that the ancient archer god Apollo was known as a deliverer from plagues. Lastly, arrow wounds appear similar to bubonic plague pustules and Sebastian's miraculous recovery was a sign of hope.
Be with and keep all athletes safe. Keep them honest, fair, and non-violent. May they always be good sports in knowing that games are made for praise of our bodies and gifts, but do not determine the value of people. Allow our country and world to never let sports interfere with its values. keep games and teamwork good for fun, socializing, praise, and laughter.
An arrow pin pierces Sebastian's label symbolizing his "first martyrdom", and his hair and collar cover his head a neck to shield wounds from his second. His eyes are closed so he won't have to watch, and though he is in pain, his mouth is still open, ready to speak up for what he believes at any cost.