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St. Sebastian was a martyr in the early church community of the city of Rome. Most of what we know of him, other than the fact of his martyrdom, is from the tradition which quickly grew up around this early saint. The “Depositio martyrum” of 354CE mentions that Sebastian was buried on the Via Appia. St. Ambrose (Psalmum cxviii; Sermo, XX, no. sliv in PL, XV, 1497) states that Sebastian came from Milan and at the time of his writing was venerated there.

The “Acts of St. Sebastian”, probably written at the beginning of the fifth century,CE, relate that he was an officer in the Imperial bodyguard and had secretly done many acts of love and charity for his sisters and brothers in the Faith. When he was finally discovered to be a Christian, in 286CE, he was handed over to archers, who pierced him with arrows and left him for dead. When the widow St. Irene came to bury him, she found him still alive, and healed his wounds. Upon coming back into the city of Rome and confronting the Emperor Diocletian on his unjust treatment of Christians, Sebastian was finally clubbed to death.

The earliest mosaic picture of St. Sebastian, circa 680CE, shows a grown, bearded man in court dress but contains no trace of an arrow. Later art would begin to portray his martyrdom at the hands of archers, and Sebastian as a young atheletic man. In 367CE one of the seven chief basilica-churches of Rome was built over his grave.

Through miracles attributed to him, Sebastian is considered a protector against the plague,and today has become the patron saint of those who live with HIV and AIDS, and those who care for them. He is also the patron saint of athletes, archers and of those in the military.

Our parish feastdays are celebrated on the Sunday nearest his memorial, January 20th and the Sunday nearest the date of our first Mass of Thanksgiving as a Parish Community, September 15th.

Tradition paints many faces to this man who clearly sought to model his life after Christ’s.

As a soldier in the Roman military, he shows us that we can fulfill our responsibilities in the world around us while keeping our eyes fixed on the Kingdom we await.

He also gives us a model of one who is faithful to the ideas of an institution he loves and also faithful to himself and what he knows to be true.

As one who was persecuted for his true identity, he shows us that the pain of injustice, discrimination, ignorance and hatred is no match for a strong belief in what is right and true.

As he is revived after the first attempt on his life through the aid of the widow, St. Irene, we see that the blessed presence of women ministering in our church is often the force that saves, nurtures and revives us as a community.

As one who is pierced through and through with the arrows of hatred, misunderstanding, ignorance and discrimination, we see our sisters and brothers afflicted with HIV and AIDS, breast cancer, and every other terminal disease. We see in their suffering the suffering of Christ who redeemed us in His blood.

In his final confrontation with the Emperor against discrimination, ignorance and hatred which brought about his martyrdom, we see that the call of our Baptism to works of peace and justice in our world as a Baptism into both the death and the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.