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.
File Under: Saints