Saint Sebastian Soldier and Martyr for Christ

The emperor would not believe when the news were broken to him. “Sebastian? that flawless officer and soldier; Sebastian who never has abused my confidence in him? he can not, he must not be a Christian. If however it were true, I would easily change his mind. . .” – “Yes, Lord,” the captain of the palace guard said, “it is true, I am a Christian” when confronting the emperor. “What evil do you find in it? What harm did it do to you? I always have been a Christian.” “Tell me,” the emperor responded, “I speak as a friend to a friend – what do you want me to do for you? Is it wealth, honor, higher rank and position? You have it; only relinquish that foolish faith in Christ.” Sebastian answered: “O Lord, what little and trifling thing you proffer; I am richer than you can make me; the greatest honor was bestowed upon me by being made a Christian.” Thereupon the emperor seeing his love spurned, raged in fury. He ordered him to be stripped of his insignia, degraded, thrown into prison, to be killed in shortest time, shot with arrows. Hearing these words Sebastian rejoiced, his face shining with inexpressible delight: he could die for Christ also. Eagerly he looked ahead for his martyrdom, which would unite him with Christ.
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Sebastian was marched off and out of the city by the soldiery to suffer the punishment decreed upon him by the emperor. He had made his choice for a greater Lord than Diocletian, to Whom he had sworn allegiance in baptism and for Whom he was going now to shed his blood. May the arrows fall upon him in showers; he would offer them his breast, his body, his heart, that beat fervently for Christ; may they open the blood-wells therein that the blood may stream forth freely, cover him with the garment of love, in which his beloved Master was clothed when nailed to the Cross. Horrified, the crowd witnessed the bloody spectacle, and like a flash of lightning it came upon them, it entered into their minds and heart: here stands a valiant soldier, who has better arms to wield, who fights his battle for victory; a hero whose head will wear the crown of glory.
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The executioners had done their gruesome work and left the place, leaving behind, tied to the tree the apparently lifeless body of their victim. But Sebastian wasn’t dead yet. In the dark of the night an angel descended and consoled the brave soldier of Christ, who again had gained consciousness. The angel told him how greatly the church would be honored on account of his heroism and how many would embrace holy faith because of the example he had set in his martyrdom; he also announced to him the glorious reward he may expect from Christ Whom he has loved so much. Sebastian felt happy and thanked the Lord for this sweet visitation. Then the angel called out into the night to attract the attention of people living in the neighborhood. A Christian lady, Irene by name, as if having waited for the signal hastened to snatch the body of the holy martyr, still alive. Hurriedly she cut the ropes with which the soldiers had tied the body to the trunk of the tree, wrapped her cloak around him and supporting him she managed to bring him to her house. There she tended his wounds and took good care of him till he was cured. Greatly moved by the story of the angel which Sebastian told to the lady, they both gave thanks to the Lord for the wonderful manifestation of love and mercy.
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The emperor thought that Sebastian was dead. He rejoiced not little in the thought that he felled a strong pillar of the church of Christ. Imagine therefore his surprise and terror when one day, not long after, he stood before him, his erstwhile captain, his wounds perfectly healed and his body restored to health and vigor. “What,” he said, not fully trusting his eyes, “are you not Sebastian, whom I had ordered to be killed by arrows, for stubbornly adhering to that foolish Christian belief? How do you dare to appear before me now?” – “The Lord Jesus gave me back again the life which you tried to take from me, so that you be given fresh proof of the truth that there is but one Lord-God and that your gods are false and impotent,” said Sebastian. Hearing these words the emperor raged in anger and cried out to his soldiers: “Take this proud wretch, who dares to speak thus to me. Torture him, flog him, and kill him for sure.” – Sebastian answered: “Know, my lord, that your tortures will be welcome to me; they will not make me relinquish my faith and betray Christ Who loved me and freed me from the slavery of sin and Satan. I shall not stop to preach Him and would gladly give one thousand lives for Him, if I had them.”
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For a second time Sebastian was fastened to the trunk of the tree; for a second time, the executioners did their bloody work on the soldier-martyr. Aside from humiliations heaped upon the scion of a noble family and high ranking officer the torture was indescribable. With crude clubs they beat him, till pieces of flesh fell from the body. Then they shot him again with arrows. With astounding humility and patience Sebastian suffered this inhuman treatment, praying all the while for his torturers and for the victory of the cause of Christ. That Christ may live in the hearts of men, he offered Him his life. The Lord accepted the holocaust; He took the precious life of His martyr to make him live and reign forever with Him in heavenly glory.
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Diocletian goes down in history as a great emperor; in the Kingdom of God he is a zero. But St. Sebastian is and remains in eternity a hero, whom God has crowned with glory. He is not dead and remembered only by name, as Diocletian is, but he lives in the Church, be lives in the hearts of the Christians who venerate him; to his honour churches and altars have been erected all over the world. Diocletian is a poor wretch who once believed he could stamp out the memory of Sebastian. God stood in the way of his pernicious plans and sided with Sebastian, His martyr, whom He honored and crowned with glory.
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Prayer to Venerate Any Saint 
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Saint Sebastian: Feast Day January 20
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Rev. 8:3-4 And another angel came, and stood before the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel. 
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ETERNAL Father, I wish to honor St. (Name), and I give Thee thanks for all the graces Thou have bestowed upon him (her). I ask Thee to please increase grace in my soul through the merits of this saint, and I commit the end of my life to him (her) by this special prayer, so that by virtue of Thine goodness and promise, St. (Name) might be my advocate and provide whatever is needed at that hour. Amen.
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PROMISE: “When you wish to honor any particular saint and give Me thanks for all the graces I have bestowed on that saint, I increase grace in your soul through the merits of that saint. When you commit the end of your life to any of the saints by special prayers, I appoint those saints to be your advocates and to provide whatever you need at that hour.”-Our Lord to St. Gertrude
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Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich revealed in her Visions that saints are particularly powerful on their feast days and should be invoked then.

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