Friday 18 December 2020

saint sebastian

Definitely the saint portrayed as the thirstiest, this captain of the Praetorian guard that prudently, sensibly hid his Christianity from Diocletian is venerated on this day in the Orthodox Church on the occasion of his martyrdom in 288, born around 256. Once his faith was revealed, the emperor (previously) ordered him lashed to a tree and shot with arrows. The firing squad departed, leaving Sebastian for dead, but he was able to miraculously recover—with the help of Saint Irene, widow of one of his previously martyred companions. Later Sebastian ambushed and berated Diocletian for his sinful ways and petitioned for better treatment for the Christian community. 

The emperor was first taken aback by such open and direct criticisms, especially from one who was supposed to be dead but soon regained his composure and ordered the saint to be cudgelled to death—probably not as pretty of a picture. Patron of the persecuted, archers and athletes, this Apollonian figure is also the protector of the plague stricken, due to a conflation with Hermes during medieval times, whom was said to deal diseased arrows from on high, and possibly because of his initial recovery which granted him a second martyrdom (called a sagittation and a fairly common theme) and that the wounds resembled the pox and buboes, whose appearance was alarming but not always a sign of certain death.