“The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian,” painted in 1480 by Italian artist Andrea Mantegna (c. 1431-1506), depicts the martyrdom of St. Sebastian. (Public Domain/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Jan. 20

According to the many legends surrounding Sebastian, he was born in Gaul and raised in Milan.

Though a Christian, he joined the imperial army at Rome about 283. He made converts of officials and jailers, effected cures and urged Christian prisoners to stay strong in their faith.

He was named captain of the praetorian guards, but the emperor, upon finding out that he was a Christian, ordered his execution. Shot with arrows and left for dead, Sebastian survived and was nursed back to life. Later, he denounced the emperor for his cruelty to Christians, and the emperor had him beaten to death.

A favorite subject of Renaissance artists, Sebastian is the patron saint of archers, soldiers and athletes. As a patron of sports, he is patron for athletics departmetns in the Diocese of Phoenix, including at Brophy College Preparatory, Bourgade Catholic High School, Notre Dame College Preparatory, Seton Catholic Preparatory, St. John Paul II Catholic High School, St. Mary’s Catholic High School, Xavier College Preparatory and Benedictine University at Mesa.