Saint Sebastian was considered for centuries the third patron saint of Rome, celebrated on January 20.
Born in a Christian family and official of high rank of the Roman Army, belonging in fact to the 1st Cohort of the 1st Legion, he was one of the responsible of the emperor’s security. Having therefore the possibility to protect the fellow Christians when in trouble he saved many of them from a terrible death until they realized that he himself was a Christian and so decided to let him die for deceiving the emperor’s confidence.
Martyred on the Palatine shot by innumerable arrows he didn’t die and was healed by the cures of the widow Irene.
Nevertheless, found again he was moved to the Palatine’s Stadium where he was flogged to death and thrown into the Tiber, in 287 A .D.
A pious woman, Lucina, found his body after a dream in which she came to know where to look for it and his wish to be buried along the Appian Way, in that cemetery called “ad kata’ kymbas” meaning ” by the depression, or cavity”, later named after him Saint Sebastian Catacombs (name then extended to all the underground early Christian cemeteries).
In 680 the end of a terrible plague was attributed to his intervention, thus ever since he was the protector from plague, and therefore is now considered by many the protector of those who fight for their life against the terrible virus of Aids.
He was represented, until the Renaissance time, the way we can still see in the beautiful mosaic in Saint Peter’s in Chain (dating to the VII centuryas); an old man, or better an old soldier of high rank.
By Paola e Guia