December 18, 2013

The Orthodox Veneration of Saint Sebastian the Martyr

Portable icon of St. Sebastian by the hand of Hieromonk Romanos Fokakis. It was created in 2005 and belongs to the private collection of John Souliotis.

By Aristides G. Theodoropoulos

The holy glorious martyr Sebastian, whose memory is honored by our Orthodox Church on December 18th, is estimated to have been martyred in 295-296 A.D., while according to Latin sources the year of his martyrdom is listed as 298 A.D., and his memory is celebrated in the Catholic Church on January 20th.

After the martyric end of Saint Sebastian a mandate was issued that his honorable body be thrown into a ditch to prevent an event of worship during his burial by Christians. But the night after his martyrdom, the Saint appeared in a vision to a pious woman named Lucina, and having showed her the exact place where his body could be found, he commanded her to bury him in a crypt, and so it was done. Until today this crypt bears the name "Catacomb of Saint Sebastian", over which was built the notorious basilica in Rome that bears his name.

Saint Sebastian is very popular in the Western Church, a fact confirmed by the widespread honor given him in Italy, Spain and France. Many cities in Europe and Latin America bear his name, while many churches have been established in his honor in Roman Catholic countries. The city of Pavia in northern Italy honors him as their patron and protector, having saved the city from an epidemic, while the Saint enjoys special honor by the Catholic Community of Ano Syros in Greece, where the parish church is named after him.

Among Orthodox in Greece Saint Sebastian is honored also with a sacred church bearing his name in Linopoti on the island of Kos, which can be found within the Army Camp "11 Palaiologos", and it is the only Orthodox Church that honors the Saint. He is also honored with great reverence in Constantinople, where beside the Sacred Church of Saint Demetrios Sarmasikiou there is the famous Holy Water of Saint Sebastian. According to tradition, in the early 19th century the Saint appeared in a vision to a woman and showed her the spot where the Holy Water could be found.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Read also:

The flower decorated icon of Saint Sebastian on the day of his annual feast in the Sacred Church of Saint Sebastian in Linopoti, Kos

The Sacred Church of Saint Sebastion in Linopoti, Kos

The Holy Water of Saint Sebastian in the Sacred Church of Saint Demetrios Sarmasikiou at Constantinople