Saint Sebastian was a third century christian martyr from Milan. The many famous depictions of his martyrdom have made him a popular icon in the gay and fetish scenes.
When Sebastian joined the Roman army he was forced to keep his Christian faith secret due to intense persecutions. After rising through the ranks his actions draw the attention of the then emperor Diocletian and he was given a special position close to him. Eventually his Christian faith was discovered and Diocletian ordered Sebastian to be tied to a tree and shot full of arrows. Though he was left to die the arrows did not kill Sebastian and he was found alive by Irene of Rome who nursed him back to health. Spured on by his faith Sebastian confronted Diocletian about his poor treatment of Christians. Determined to kill him this time Diocletian ordered Sebastian to be clubbed to death and his body thrown in the sewer.
Through the many sexually suggestive depictions of his, attempted, martyrdom Sebastian has become a popular figure in the gay and fetish scenes. Themes of suffering, bondage and twink masculinity radiate out of his paintings.
It is not only in art that he is an inspiration. Through his suffering, standing up against oppression, accusation of beteayal by someone close to him and the subsequent bashing to death and desecration of his corpse he has become someone queer and fetish people can relate with in their struggles and experiences.
St Sebastian is venerated in the Catholic and orthodox churches and queer bars around the globe on this day.
A Prayer for Sebastian:
Lord God we thank you for the witness and life of your servant Sebastian. We ask you to inspire us to challenge oppression when we see it and be willing to put ourselves in harms way for the sake of what is right. We pray also for those who suffer at the hands of others for who they are and what they believe. In Jesus’ most Holy Name we pray. Amen
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