Friday, January 20, 2006
St. Sebastian
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Double (1954 Calendar): January 20
Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): January 20

Today the Church remembers St. Sebastian (c. 257- c. 288). St. Sebastian was a convert to Christianity and died a martyr for his faith. Sebastian helped imprisoned Christians during this time of persecution and converted many others. After learning of St. Sebastian's acts, the emperor ordered Sebastian murdered. Sebastian was pierced with numerous arrows and left to die, but a widow named Irene found him and healed him.

He came before Emperor Diocletian again and was then sentenced to death. He was martyred by being beaten to death with clubs. He refused to give up his love for Jesus Christ.

Traditional Matins Reading:

Sebastian, whose father was of Narbonne, and his mother a lady of Milan, was beloved by Diocletian on account of his noble birth and his virtues. Being a captain of the pretorian cohort, he was able to give assistance and alms to the Christians, whose faith he himself followed, though privately. When he perceived any of them trembling at the great tortures of the persecutors, he made it his duty to encourage them; and so well did he do it, that many, for the sake of Jesus Christ, would freely offer themselves to the executioners. Of this number were the two brothers Mark and Marcellian, who were in custody under Nicostratus, whose wife, named Zoe, had recovered her speech by the prayer made for her by Sebastian. Diocletian, being told of these things, summoned Sebastian before him; and after upbraiding him in very strong words, tried every means to induce him to turn from the faith of Christ. But finding that neither promises nor threats availed, he ordered him to be tied to a stake, and to be shot to death with arrows.

Everyone thought he was dead; and a pious woman named Irene gave orders that his body should be taken away during the night and buried; but she, finding him to be still alive, had him taken to her house, where she took care of him. Not long after, having quite recovered, he went before Diocletian, and boldly chided him for his wickedness. At first the Emperor was struck dumb with astonishment, for he had been told that Sebastian was dead; but at length the strange event and the Martyr's sharp rebuke so inflamed him with rage, that he ordered him to be scourged to death with rods. His body was thrown into a sewer, but Lucina was instructed by Sebastian, in her sleep, both as to where his body was, and where he wished to be buried. Accordingly she buried him at the Catacombs, where, afterwards, a celebrated Church was built, called Saint Sebastian's.

A Prayer to St. Sebastian:

Dear Commander at the Roman Emperor's court, you chose to be also a soldier of Christ and dared to spread faith in the King of Kings, for which you were condemned to die. Your body, however, proved athletically strong and the executing arrows extremely weak. So another means to kill you was chosen and you gave your life to the Lord. May athletes be always as strong in their faith as their Patron Saint so clearly has been. Amen.

Prayer:

O Almighty God, have regard to our weakness: and since the weight of our own evil deeds is oppressive, may the glorious intercession of Thy blessed Martyrs, Fabian and Sebastian, protect us. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

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