By Kelly Legg
A canonized saint that is honored as a special protector is known as a patron saint. A patron saint may also be a benefactor of persons in a certain occupation or a guardian of those who bear the saint’s name. A patron saint may be invoked to intercede with God for help in a time of special need.
This month we are learning some interesting history about Saint Sebastian. Saint Sebastian was an undercover Christian for most of his life. He was born into nobility and joined the Imperial Roman army only to keep his cover. He moved through the ranks of the army quickly and spent most of his time ministering and converting countless prisoners of the Roman army. He was a gifted healer and converted soldiers as well as the governor of Rome to Christianity.
There were Christians who knew about Sebastian’s faith and brought a mute woman named Zoe to him for healing. She had lost the power of speech and Sebastian prayed with her and she quickly recovered. As a result, many people who knew her became Christians.
Around this same time, The Emperor promoted Sebastian to be his bodyguard. This Emperor hated Christians and did not realize that Sebastian was of such strong faith. When he eventually discovered that Sebastian was a Christian, he ordered that Sebastian be put to death.
Sebastian was stripped and tied to a tree. His fellow officers used him as a target for archery practice and he was shot multiple times with arrows. Saint Irene of Rome found him and nursed him back to health.
As soon as he recovered, Sebastian went and hid in a passageway and approached the Emperor. Sebastian told him what he thought of his cruelty and tried to convert him to Christianity. The Emperor ordered Sebastian to be beaten to death with heavy clubs and his body was thrown into one of the city’s sewers.
Saint Sebastian’s strength make him known as the patron saint of athletes because of his physical endurance and how emphatically he defended his faith.
Stay tuned next month as we learn about Saint Lucy.