Martyr. Probaby born in Milan, Italy; died c.288 in Rome, Italy. Little more than the fact of his martyrdom can be proved. According to the Acts written in the 5th century and now considered unhistorical, Sebastian, an officer in the imperial body-guard, was pierced with arrows, healed by Saint Irene, and finally clubbed to death. Renaissance artists first portrayed him as a youth pierced with arrows. Among the famous paintings of the saint are those by
- Mantegna in the Vienna Gallery
- Ribera in the Prado, Madrid
- Pollajuolo in the National Gallery, London
- seven by Guido Reni
A famous basilica was erected over his tomb in the Catacomb named for him on the Appian Way, and some of his relics were probably brought to Soissons in 829. Patron of archers and gunsmiths, and of many cities; he is also invoked against pestilence. Emblems: arrows and a crown. Feast, Roman Calendar, 20 January.