December 18, 2020

The Skull of Saint Sebastian in Bavaria

Saint Sebastian was martyred during the Roman emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians, around the year 288. Nearly 80 years after his death, around 367, his remains were moved to a basilica in Rome, built by Pope Damasus I. His body, or at least some relics from his body were reportedly removed and shared with a community of monks in France. His skull was sent to a German monastery in Ebersberg in 934. This monastery became one of the most important pilgrimage sites in southern Germany, as people flocked to venerate the skull of Saint Sebastian, which was believed to have miraculous power. 
In 1007 the monastery was converted into a Benedictine abbey, and in 1450 the skull was placed in the current silver-encased bust reliquary. It is said the silver-encased cranium was used as a cup in which to present the consecrated wine of the Holy Eucharist to the faithful during the feast of Saint Sebastian. It is further believed the cranium was used by the faithful to drink wine so their diseases could be cured. The relic remains in its case today in the reliquary in the parish church of Saint Sebastian in Ebersberg of Upper Bavaria.