Sebastian, Saint

died с 288, Rome; feast day January 20

Christian martyr who died during the persecutions of Diocletian.

According to legend, he was born in Gaul and went to Rome to serve in the army. When officials learned that he was a Christian seeking converts, they ordered his execution by archers. Left for dead, he was nursed back to health by a Christian widow. He presented himself before the emperor, who condemned him to death by beating. His body was thrown into a sewer but was afterward found and buried. In Renaissance art he was often depicted as a handsome youth pierced by arrows.

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▪ Christian martyr

died c. 288, , Rome [Italy]; feast day January 20
 early Christian popularized by Renaissance painters and believed to have been martyred during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian.

      According to his legend, he was born in Gaul, went to Rome, and joined (c. 283) the army of the emperor Carinus, later becoming a captain under Diocletian. When it was discovered that he was a Christian who had converted many soldiers, Sebastian was ordered to be killed by arrows. The archers left him for dead, but a Christian widow nursed him back to health. He then presented himself before Diocletian, who condemned him to death by beating. His body, thrown into a sewer, was found by another pious woman, who dreamed that Sebastian told her to bury his remains near the catacombs. His relics are believed to be in the Basilica of San Sebastiano on the Appian Way, to which many pilgrims were attracted in the Middle Ages. Sebastian's martyrdom was a favourite subject of Renaissance artists, and it was depicted by, among others, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Sandro Botticelli, Andrea Mantegna, Perugino, and El Greco; the saint is usually shown as a handsome youth pierced by arrows.

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Universalium. 2010.

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