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St. Sebastian
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Religious Figure
    ( -January 20, 287)
    Patron saint of archers, athletes, pin makers and soldiers
    Invoked against plague
    Member of the Roman Praetorian Guard who secretly converted to Christianity
    Martyred during the reign of Diocletian
    His hagiographers dispute whether he was born in Italy or Gaul.
    Paintings of his 'martyrdom' usually show him being shot with arrows.
    However, he survived this and was actually martyred by being beaten to death.
    The oldest images of him (5th century) show him as a mature bearded man.
    Later artists depicted him as a handsome youth.
    Paintings of his martyrdom -- a nearly naked youth, pierced with arrows, eyes lifted to heaven in (hopefully religious) ecstasy -- have a homoerotic/S&M appeal.
    He was named patron saint of pin makers because his body resembled a pin cushion after being shot full of arrows.
    He used his inside position in the Praetorian Guards to find a hiding place for the Pope during the persecutions.
    After surviving being shot by arrows, he bravely (or foolhardily) confronted Diocletian.
    Diocletian was so surprised at meeting a man he thought dead that he briefly considered converting to Christianity himself.
    Diocletian had second thoughts and ordered him cudgeled to death.
    He was a popular subject of Renaissance art.
    Many gay Catholics unofficially consider him their patron saint.

Credit: C. Fishel


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