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Executed for his faith – twice

Saint Sebastian

Birthplace: Narbonne, Gaul

Feast Day: Jan. 20

Patron of athletes, soldiers, police and physicians

Claim to Fame: According to tradition, Sebastian was born in the third century. He attended school in Milan, Italy as a boy. When he was a young man, Sebastian became concerned about the persecution of Christians. Hoping to find opportunities to encourage them, Sebastian joined the Roman army in 283. While keeping his own Christianity a secret from army leaders, he discreetly converted many Romans. Sebastian also covertly urged wavering Christians to remain true to their faith as the threat of persecution escalated.

Best quote: Although we have no record of Sebastian’s words, it is said that he appeared in a vision to a Christian woman named Lucina. When she learned of Sebastian’s martyrdom, she recovered his body and had it properly buried in the catacombs, an underground Christian cemetery beneath the city of Rome.

How he died: When Sebastian’s faith was eventually discovered, he was sentenced to death by Emperor Diocletian. Tied to a stake, Sebastian was shot with arrows. His executioners left him for dead, but he survived. A Christian widow named Irene, who had come to bury Sebastian, nursed him back to health instead. Undeterred by his previous suffering, Sebastian confronted Diocletian and denounced his atrocities against Christianity. The emperor was surprised to see Sebastian alive, but the ruler did not repent. Instead, he ordered Sebastian to be beaten to death with clubs, and his body thrown into a sewer.

Prayer: Dear Saint Sebastian, you chose to be a soldier of Christ and dared to spread the faith – for which you were condemned to die. May we have the same strength of faith. Amen.