Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 25 January |
The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

Why is St. Sebastian patron saint of athletes?

St. Sebastian

Agnolo Bronzino | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 01/20/20

He never played a sport, but his extraordinary physical stamina made him a popular saint among athletes.

St. Sebastian is known around the word as the “patron saint of athletes.” However, why is that? Did St. Sebastian participate in any sporting events?

Relatively little is known about St. Sebastian, a Christian martyr of the 3rd century. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, an early account of his life “relate[s] that he was an officer in the imperial bodyguard and had secretly done many acts of love and charity for his brethren in the Faith.”

If this is true, Sebastian was certainly in very good shape as a soldier in the Roman Empire. His physical strength would soon be put to the test when his Christian faith was discovered.

In The Lives of the Primitive Fathers by Fr. Alban Butler, Sebastian was, “impeached before the emperor Dioclesian; who, having grievously reproached him with ingratitude, delivered him over to certain archers of Mauritania, to be shot to death. His body was covered with arrows, and he was left for dead. Irene, the widow of St Castulus, going to bury him, found him still alive, and took him to her lodgings, where, by care, he recovered of his wounds, but refused to fly, and even placed himself one day by a staircase, where the emperor was to pass, whom he first accosted, reproaching him for his unjust cruelties against the Christians. This freedom of speech, and from a person too whom he supposed to have been dead, greatly astonished the empeior; but recovering from his surprise, he gave orders for his being seized and beat to death with cudgels, and his body thrown into the common sewer.”

The most common depiction of Sebastian was as a young, athletic young man, riddled with arrows. It was this artistic expression, along with the story of his supernatural endurance, that made him a popular saint among soldiers and athletes. 

His memory lives on today and even though he never played a sport, St. Sebastian continues to be a model of extraordinary physical and spiritual strength for athletes in every arena.


SEBASTIAN

Read more:
Pray for athletes with this prayer to St. Sebastian




Read more:
9 Saints who were athletes

Tags:
SaintsSports
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
2
Philip Kosloski
When did Christians start praying the Hail Mary?
3
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
The 4 Ways to read Scripture every Catholic should know
4
PHILIP RIVERS
Cerith Gardiner
Quarterback Philip Rivers' retirement announcement reflects his s...
5
DAD, HOW DO I?
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
6
CONSOLE
Philip Kosloski
What are the spiritual works of mercy?
7
LUPKOW CEMETERY
J-P Mauro
Polish statue of Christ found peeking out of a growing tree
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.