A martyr whose story inspired many Renaissance painters,
St. Sebastian is said to have been a Roman soldier, possibly born
in Milan or of Milanese parentage, who secretly aided accused Christians
and converted many of his fellow soldiers. Diocletian and Maximian,
unaware of his religious convictions and activities, made him a captain of
the Prætorian Guard. When the former learned that Sebastian was
a Christian, the emperor ordered that the soldier be shot full of arrows.
Sebastian was left as dead and was rescued. Irene, the widow of St.
tended his wounds. When Sebastian was fully recovered, he confronted
who ordered him cudgelled to death. Sebastian died c. 297/305 and was
the Appian Way.
The cult of Sebastian dates to the V Century. Ambrose mentions him, and
the Passio was composed c. 450, presumably by a monk in a monastery
by Sixtus III in the catacombs. The earliest pictures of Sebastian are
Ravenna and St. Peter-in-Chains; these depict him as an old man.
portray Sebastian as a young man whose neck is ringed with arrows.
Karen Rae Keck
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