Saint Sebastian, Patron Saint of Sports

Saint SebastianCatholics seem to have a saint for every occasion. Today we are taking a look at Saint Sebastian, Patron Saint of Sports of sorts.[1]

My religious background having been in the protestant camp, I know very little about saints (other than Francis of Assissi), so I knew nothing of Saint Sebastian. Today, our own Saint Frank sent me sleuthing and after some brief, yet quite intense research on a website (guess which) I learned the following, almost surely true facts about Saint Sebastian, The Twice Martyred:

  1. He might have been born around 256 and died in the vicinity of 288.
  2. His non-Christian name could have been Gallia Narbonensis (or possibly Gallileo Carbonisis), but his friends called him Sebastian for short.
  3. Apparently Mr Sebastian was a Christian with a mission at the time when, Christian scholars are pretty sure he became a captain in Diocletian‘s Praetorian Guard.
  4. Sebastian, who today could easily have been a life coach, encouraged Christian prisoners (and their families), who were on the sacrificial short list, to stick to their guns. Martyrdom; that’ll show the Romans who’s boss.
  5. Unfortunately, Diocletian felt that Sebastian’s attempts to cheer up the soon-to-die spoiled the fun. Who wants to kill someone who just stands there, praising the wrong god while lions knock them about? There may be no crying in baseball, but in ritual sacrifice it’s a goddamn rule.
  6. As punishment for being a such a killjoy, Diocletian had Sebastian tied to a tree and let his best archers practice hitting the tree. They were very good, so Sebastian survived the one or ten arrows that accidentally hit him and Irene of Rome [2] was able to fix him right up.
  7. When he got better, having suffered mere flesh wounds, and perhaps delirious from herbal pain management, felt empowered to stand on a step and talk shit to Diocletian, who just happened to be walking past.
  8. Diocletian was not amused. He had Sebastian clubbed like a baby Harbor seal and his body chucked into a sewer.
  9. The remains of someone that somebody pulled from the sewer and identified as Sebastian’s are now in Rome. Or France.

St Sebastian is an inspiration to athletes, especially archers, because of his willingness to take one for the team. Sebastian led by example: Be a team player, even if it kills you. Injured? Walk it off, and talking shit at your opponent is all part of the game.

[1] Judging from the many portraits of Saint Sebastian, he might be even more popular with the gay S&M crowd.

[2] Saint Irene of Rome, who as you know was the widow of the martyr Saint Castulus, and should not to be confused with Irene of Florence, a charlatan who didn’t know a salve from a poultice.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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