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St. Sebastian: Martyred twice

Art at Fort Lauderdale church honors heroic third-century soldier-saint

FORT LAUDERDALE | Saints are rightly honored for giving their lives for the faith. But St. Sebastian is among the very few who paid the ultimate sacrifice twice.

Whenever people picture the soldier-saint, whose feast day is Jan. 20, they usually remember paintings of him bound to a stake, his body pierced with arrows. Many don’t know that he barely survived that execution — then was clubbed to death.

St. Sebastian carries a clutch of arrows plus a palm frond, two signs of his martyrdom, in this window at St. Sebastian Church, Fort Lauderdale.

Photographer: JIM DAVIS | FC

St. Sebastian carries a clutch of arrows plus a palm frond, two signs of his martyrdom, in this window at St. Sebastian Church, Fort Lauderdale.

Legend says the third-century saint was born in Gaul, then went to Rome and joined the army. He so distinguished himself that he was appointed to the Praetorian Guard, the personal bodyguards of the emperor Diocletian.

In the year 286, the emperor learned Sebastian was converting soldiers to Christianity and ordered Sebastian's death. Sebastian was shot by archers, then left for dead.

A Christian widow found Sebastian and nursed him back to health. Once recovered, he sought out Diocletian in public places and denounced him for persecuting Christians.

This time, Diocletian had him beaten to death and his body thrown in a sewer. Another woman found the body and had it buried in the city's catacombs.

He is the patron saint of soldiers and athletes. The saint lent his name to a river, a city and a county in east-central Florida.

Sebastian is also the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The city's full name is Sao Sebastiao de Rio de Janeiro, or "St. Sebastian of the January River."

His namesake church in the Archdiocese of Miami was born in 1959. It was served first by priests from St. Anthony Church, the mother congregation for Catholic churches in Broward County.

Nestled in the quiet community of Harbor Inlet, just south of Fort Lauderdale's public beach, St. Sebastian is well suited to serve Catholics in the city's beach resorts. The church has also developed a range of ministries in prayer, music, religious education, 12-step programs and other areas.

The architecture of St. Sebastian Church in Fort Lauderdale adopts a slimmed-down Mediterranean style.

Photographer: JIM DAVIS | FC

The architecture of St. Sebastian Church in Fort Lauderdale adopts a slimmed-down Mediterranean style.


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