Saint Sebastian

Σεβαστιανὸς τῶν πλάνης σεβασμάτων,
Καταφρονήσας τύπτεται τὸ σαρκίον.
Ὀγδοάτῃ δεκάτῃ Σεβαστιανὸς ῥοπαλίσθη.
Saint Sebastian (Latin: Sebastianus; c. AD 255 – c. c. AD 288) was an early Christian saint and martyr. According to traditional belief, he was killed during the Diocletianic Persecution of Christians. He was initially tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows, though this did not kill him. He was, according to tradition, rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome, which became a popular subject in 17th-century painting. In all versions of the story, shortly after his recovery he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins, and as a result was clubbed to death. He is venerated in the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.

The oldest record of the details of Sebastian's martyrdom is found in the Chronograph of 354, which mentions him as a martyr, venerated on January 20. He is also mentioned in a sermon on Psalm 118 by 4th-century bishop Ambrose of Milan (Saint Ambrose): in his sermon, Ambrose stated that Sebastian came from Milan and that he was already venerated there at that time. The full account of his martyrdom comes from the Passio Sancti Sebastiani, a 5th-century text written by an anonymous author, possibly Arnobius the Younger.

Saint Sebastian is a popular male saint, especially today among athletes. In medieval times, he was regarded as a saint with a special ability to intercede to protect from plague, and devotion to him greatly increased when plague was active.
The ancient source mentioning Sebastian is found in the Chronograph of 354, a compilation of chronological and calendrical texts produced in 354 AD by the calligrapher and illustrator Furius Dionysius Filocalus, which mentions him as a martyr who was venerated on January 20. His cult is also mentioned by Ambrose of Milan in his Expositio in Psalmum CXVIII, a theological and exegetical commentary of Psalm 118 dated to 386-390 AD; Ambrose states that Sebastian came from Milan and that he was venerated as a Saint there.

The first surviving account of Sebastian's life and death is the Passio Sancti Sebastiani, long thought to have been written by Ambrose in the 4th century, but now regarded as a 5th-century account by an unknown author (possibly Arnobius the Younger). This includes the "two martyrdoms", and the care by Irene in between, and other details that remained part of the story.

According to Sebastian's 18th-century entry in Acta Sanctorum, still attributed to Ambrose by the 17th-century hagiographer Jean Bolland, and the briefer account in the 14th-century Legenda Aurea, he was a man of Gallia Narbonensis who was taught in Mediolanum (Milan). In 283, Sebastian entered the army in Rome under Emperor Carinus to assist the martyrs. Because of his courage he became one of the captains of the Praetorian Guards under Diocletian and Maximian, who were unaware that he was a Christian.

According to tradition, Marcus and Marcellianus were twin brothers from a distinguished family and were deacons. Both brothers married, and they resided in Rome with their wives and children. The brothers refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and were arrested. They were visited by their parents Tranquillinus and Martia in prison, who attempted to persuade them to renounce Christianity. Sebastian succeeded in converting Tranquillinus and Martia, as well as Saint Tiburtius, the son of Chromatius, the local prefect. Another official, Nicostratus, and his wife Zoe were also converted. It has been said that Zoe had been a mute for six years; however, she made known to Sebastian her desire to be converted to Christianity. As soon as she had, her speech returned to her. Nicostratus then brought the rest of the prisoners; these 16 persons were converted by Sebastian.

Chromatius and Tiburtius converted; Chromatius set all of his prisoners free from jail, resigned his position, and retired to the country in Campania. Marcus and Marcellianus, after being concealed by a Christian named Castulus, were later martyred, as were Nicostratus, Zoe, and Tiburtius.
Ο Άγιος Σεβαστιανός θεραπεύεται από την Αγία Ειρήνη (Georges de La Tour, Λούβρο), γ. 1645

Sebastian had prudently concealed his faith, but in 286 it was detected. Diocletian reproached him for his supposed betrayal, and he commanded him to be led to a field and there to be bound to a stake so that the chosen archers from Mauretania would shoot arrows at him. "And the archers shot at him till he was as full of arrows as an urchin is full of pricks, and thus left him there for dead." Miraculously, the arrows did not kill him. The widow of Castulus, Irene of Rome, went to retrieve his body to bury it, and discovered he was still alive. She brought him back to her house and nursed him back to health.

Sebastian later stood by a staircase where the emperor was to pass and harangued Diocletian for his cruelties against Christians. This freedom of speech, and from a person whom he supposed to have been dead, greatly astonished the emperor; but recovering from his surprise, he gave orders for Sebastian to be seized and beaten to death with cudgels, and his body thrown into the common sewer. A holy lady named Lucina, admonished by the martyr in a vision, privately removed the body and buried it in the catacombs at the entrance of the cemetery of Calixtus, where now stands the Basilica of St. Sebastian.
Ασημένιο γλυπτό από το 1450

Remains reputed to be those of Sebastian are housed in Rome in the Basilica Apostolorum, built by Pope Damasus I in 367 on the site of the provisional tomb of Saints Peter and Paul. The church, today called San Sebastiano fuori le mura, was rebuilt in the 1610s under the patronage of Scipione Borghese..
St. Ado, Eginard, Sigebert, and other contemporary authors relate that, in the reign of Louis Debonnair, Pope Eugenius II gave the body of St. Sebastian to Hilduin, Abbot of St. Denys, who brought it into France, and it was deposited at Saint Medard Abbey, at Soissons, on 8 December, in 826.

Sebastian's cranium was brought to the town of Ebersberg (Germany) in 934. A Benedictine abbey was founded there and became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in southern Germany. It is said the silver-encased cranium was used as a cup in which to present the consecrated wine of the Blessed Sacrament to the faithful during the feast of Saint Sebastian.

The belief that Saint Sebastian was a defense against the plague was a medieval addition to his reputation, which largely accounts for the enormous increase in his importance in the Late Middle Ages. The connection of the martyr shot with arrows with the plague is not an intuitive one, however. In Greco-Roman myth, Apollo, the archer god, at times destroys his enemies by shooting plague-arrows from the heavens, but is also the deliverer from pestilence; the figure of Sebastian Christianizes this folkloric association.

The hopeful example of Sebastian being able to recover from his "first martyrdom" (or "sagittation", as it is sometimes called) was also relevant, and the arrow-wounds can resemble the buboes that were symptoms of bubonic plague. Visually, "the arrow wounds call to God for mercy to us, as the symptoms of the infirm call for pity from the passerby", as Molanus put it.

The chronicler Paul the Deacon relates that, in 680, Rome was freed from a raging pestilence by him. The Golden Legend transmits the episode of a great plague that afflicted the Lombards in the time of King Gumburt, which was stopped by the erection of an altar in honor of Sebastian in the Church of Saint Peter in the Province of Pavia.

Είναι κοινώς γνωστός ως «Πολιούχος των Αθλημάτων».

Η Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία τιμά την μνήμη του στις στις 18 Δεκεμβρίου.

Λειτουργικά κείμενα
Ἦχος α’. Τῆς ἐρήμου πολίτης.
Συγκλήτου σφαλλομένης παριδῶν τὰ συνέδρια, Σεβαστιανὲ πανολβίαν, συναγείρεις συνέλευσιν, Μαρτύρων ἀληθῶς πανευκλεῶν, σὺν σοῖ καταβαλόντων τὸν ἐχθρόν, μεθ' ὧν θείας συναυλίας ἀξιωθεῖς, φαιδρύνεις τοὺς βοώντας σοι, δόξα τῷ δεδωκότι σοι ἰσχύν, δόξα τῷ σὲ στεφανώσαντι, δόξα τῷ ἐνεργούντι διὰ σοῦ, πάσιν ἰάματα.

Σήμερα το εορτολόγιο περιλαμβάνει όσους φέρουν τα ονόματα Σεβαστιανός, Σεβαστίνος, Σεβαστός, Σέβος, Σέβης, Φλώρα, Φλωρή, Φλωρίτσα, Φλώρος, Φλώρης, Ιακώβ, Γιακουμής, Ιωσήφ, Σήφης, Ιωσηφίνα, Ζοζεφίνα και Τζέσικα.