Ecclesiam res et talia sermocinamur -

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Friday, January 20, 2006

St. Sebastian


Today is the feast of St. Sebastian. If you're at Notre Dame, you can celebrate this martyr's feast with my best friend from high school (who happens to be under our subject's patronage) tonight in Dillon 213. What he'll think of my advertising his party on this blog, I can't say.

St. Sebastian was a knight and favorite of the court under the emperor Diocletian, but converted to Christianity. The Golden Legend lists the date of his martyrdom as 287, but other sources provide the date of his conversion as 303. He was known for comforting and assisting the Christians imprisoned by the authorities, and converted many soldiers and a Roman governor in the the course of these endeavors.

When denounced as a Christian to Diocletian, the emperor ordered that he be taken out and shot with arrows. This was done, and Sebastian was left for dead tied to a tree. When local women came to retrieve and buy his body, however, he was found still alive. He recovered, and returned to Rome to preach to Diocletian. Captured and imprisoned again, he was beaten to death.

During the middle ages, the image of the Black Death as a fell archer striking the people down from a distance caused St. Sebastian to become associated with the plague. In addition to this and archers and their related trades, he also is the patron of armourers, diseased cattle, the Swiss Guard, lacemakers, police, lead workers, masons, iron mongers, and book binders.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Jason said...

There is some speculation as well that the widespread prevalence of St. Sebastian's portrayal in art was due to the fact that artists may have had some, uh, same-sex proclivities that they could "act on" by painting an attractive Roman soldier.

Whether or not this is revisionism, I'm not sure, but there IS a remarkable amount of art pertaining to him and not all of it can be explained by his association with the Black Death.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Recta Ratio discusses that. The homosexual fascination with St. Sebastian is a purely modern perversion, it would seem.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Moneybags said...

I'm glad that I remembered to post on this great saint. I have this beautiful calendar with the saints and January's photo and biography were on St. Sebastian.

Was he named one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, though? I just asked myself that after reading on your blog that he was invoke during the plague-era.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

St. Sebastian is not one of the Holy Helpers. If I remember correctly, most of them fell prey to the "maybe these people didn't really exist" mania and have had their culti suppressed.

2:12 PM  

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