Saint Sebastian

20th January

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The story of St. Sebastian takes us back to about 300 years after the lifetime of Jesus. That means about 1,620 years ago! Yet he is still honoured today, in 2020, as one of the heroic saints. He was born in France in a Christian family. His father was a nobleman. As a young man he moved to Milan and then to Rome where he joined the Roman Army. He was promoted as a Praetorian Guard, acting as the Emperor’s own bodyguard.

At that time, the Roman Emperor was Dioclatian. He hated Christians and ordered the death of Christians who refused to worship the Roman idols and continued to profess their belief in Jesus Christ. Sebastian kept the secret that he was a Christian so that he could continue to preach about Jesus Christ. He converted people, even soldiers and officers in the Roman Army, to Christianity.

Eventually, the Emperor found out that Sebastian was a Christian. He was sentenced to death. . . but he survived and he was martyred by being beaten to death. Saint Sebastian is identified as the Patron Saint of victims of epidemics especially the plague. This arose from the symbolic association of arrows and their wounds, with the skin wounds caused by the plague. In those days, as medical knowledge was limited, towns and villages turned to a saint for intercession and protection.

Engage with the children in a discussion after watching the short video. Listen to their views about how they admire Sebastian, trying to elicit admirable qualities: Courage, bravery, strong faith, not giving up, not going into hiding after the first attempt on his life.

Explore with the children whether they are aware that even today, in some countries around the world, it is against the law to be a Christian. In these countries believers in Jesus are arrested, sometimes even beaten just because they love Jesus. Just give general information, (avoiding detail) of difficult and painful life events surrounding the profession of Faith. Reference can be made to stories of missionaries and the challenges they face when they preach the Gospel to people of other cultures and beliefs.

Lead them to appreciate the freedom of practising Faith, when we can go to church whenever we want and nobody stops us. This kind of discussion needs to develop not only according to the age of the children, but also according to the children’s sensitivity to suffering.

Throughout our life we might not have to endure severe persecution. However there will be instances when we can be scoffed, ignored, made fun of, when we stand up for what we believe. It all adds up to being strong in our faith, even when our weak nature wants ‘to run the other way’.

Psychologically, a great deal of who we are, is formed when we are children. The early formative years of our children are the foundations for the time when their faith is challenged, when as teenagers, their critical thinking ‘kicks in’. Their faith needs to be strengthened, not only by giving information and filling worksheets, but based on an environment conducive to strong beliefs of virtue and Christian values, a mature faith “anchored for a lifetime.”

Boldly and bravely following Jesus in a child’s life involves small ’steps’ that can continue to grow in dimension as they mature in their faith. Start by suggesting some of these ‘steps’:

  • praying before lunch wherever we are,
  • looking out for a loner in friendship groups
  • telling the truth when they do something wrong – owning up  
  • continue to be kind to siblings/friends even when they feel they have been hurt, teased, let down.

Let them suggest other situations from their own experience.

For Family Prayer Time, an adult can start prayers for: people who are suffering because of their faith

  • people who have hurt us in some way
  • ask forgiveness if we have hurt others
  • ask Saint Sebastian to intercede for us during this Pandemic of 2020, for those suffering, for the frontliners, for victims

Look up the song “Strong and CourageousSing it together!

Sebastian was born in Gaul to a rich family and he served in the Imperial Roman Army and was a captain of the guard. Sebastian visited the prisoners and converted lots of soldiers. Even though he was the Emperor’s favourite, Sebastian had to suffer since he did not want to give up his faith by dying as a martyr. Saint Sebastian is the patron Saint of the pandemics as well! 

Saint Sebastian’s Cup Cakes! 

For today’s activity we will be baking some Red Velvet cupcakes! Follow this video for the ingredients and method.

To remind us more about the martyr of St. Sebastian; grab some toothpicks and one side, using small papers, draw, cut and stick some small arrows. Insert these toothpicks on top of the cupcake, pretending they are the arrows of St. Sebastian. Look at the photo to see how these cupcakes should turn out.

Afterwards, share Saint Sebastian’s story with your loved ones and don’t forget to explain what the arrows represent!  

Don’t forget to send us a photo of your cupcakes!

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Saints of the Church. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the holy life, helping you to connect the saints to daily life in a meaningful way.