Saint Sebastian, whose feast is celebrated on January 20, was a third century Roman soldier, who is known as a patron of athletes, archers, and soldiers and of a holy death. He has the distinction of having been "martyred twice." Sebastian showed supernatural character in offering himself as a victim in order to bring more souls to God.
During his lifetime, Sebastian encouraged Christians in staying faithful under the persecution of Diocletian. He became a soldier expressly to be able to minister to those in the armies. Sebastian converted many. He effected miracles of healing in several cases. A woman who was mute for six years regained her voice when she indicated to Sebastian that he had converted her to Christianity. Diocletian ordered Sebastian to be tied to a stake and killed by arrows when he realized that his esteemed guard was a proselytizing Christian. A great number of arrows were fired into Sebastian and he was left for dead. When Irene of Rome went to take his body for burial, however, she found him alive and nursed him back to health. It was in her house that a doubting blind woman whom Sebastian blessed miraculously received her sight. She, too, was converted.
Sebastian boldly set himself in a place where he would be able to challenge Diocletian verbally as he passed by. Shaken by this man seemingly raised from the dead, Diocletian ordered Sebastian beaten to death. This time he did succumb and is known and venerated as a great martyr and saint. He is sometimes counted among the Fourteen Holy Helpers, who intercede and do the Will of God in times of need. He is sometimes credited with helping to stop the scourge of the bubonic plague. St. Sebastian is an example of fortitude and perseverance. He never failed to share the gospel, and did not cringe from suffering for the Faith, even to being "martyred" twice!
January 19, 2015