Saint of the Day ~ January 20

SAINT SEBASTIAN (?-c.288), martyr – Patron saint of archers, athletes and stone masons

Today, the Church honors Saint Sebastian, a courageous follower of Christ who ministered to the needs of Christians as a Roman soldier, and who faced martyrdom twice, denouncing the extreme cruelty which his fellow Christian brothers and sisters were compelled to endure.

Sebastian was born at Narbonne in Gaul, the son of a wealthy Roman family and was educated in Milan, Italy. He was a fervent servant of Christ, and, even though his natural inclinations gave him an aversion to a military life, legend states that he made a decision to join the Roman army in order to serve the needs of Christians who were imprisoned by bringing them supplies and consolation.

History records that Sebastian, as an officer in the imperial bodyguard, was responsible for giving comfort to many martyrs along with converting fellow soldiers and a Roman governor.

Under the reign of the Roman emperor, Diocletian, and the extreme atrocities which he ordered against Christians, Sebastian was charged as a Christian in the year 288 in Rome. He was tied to a tree, shot with arrows and left for dead. He was found alive by Saint Irene of Rome and others who had come to bury him. When Sebastian recovered, he returned to preach to Diocletian, denouncing his cruelty to Christians. The emperor then had him beaten to death with clubs.

In a commentary on the psalms by St. Ambrose, he writes “Allow me to propose to you the example of the holy martyr Sebastian, whose birthday in glory we celebrate today. He was a native of Milan…he went to Rome, the scene of bitter opposition arising from the Christians’ zeal for the faith. There he suffered; there he gained the [martyr’s] crown.”

The remains of Saint Sebastian were buried on the Appian Way, close to the catacombs which bear his name.

We commemorate his feastday on January 20.

(From,,,, and



(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Sebastian)

“Lord, fill us with that spirit of courage which gave Your martyr Sebastian strength to offer his life in faithful witness. Help us to learn from him to cherish Your Law, and to obey You rather than men.

“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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