Dormition of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox Church in Oakmont, PA
 

The Holy Martyr Sebastian
and those with him

This glorious saint was born in Italy and brought up in the city of Milan. While still young, he dedicated himself to military service. Being educated, handsome and courageous, he received the favor of Emperor Diocletian, who appointed him captain of his imperial guard. Secretly he confessed the Christian Faith and prayed to the Living God. As an honorable, just and merciful man, Sebastian was greatly beloved by his soldiers. Whenever he could, he saved Christians from torture and death, and, when he was unable to do so, he exhorted them to die for Christ the Living God without turning back.

The Holy Martyr Sebastian Two brothers, Marcus and Marcellinus, who had been imprisoned for Christ and were already on the verge of denouncing Him and worshiping idols, were confirmed in the Faith by Sebastian, who strengthened them for martyrdom. As he spoke with them, encouraging them not to fear death for Christ, his face was illumined. Everyone saw his shining face, like that of an angel of God. Sebastian also confirmed his words by miracles: he healed Zoe, the jailer Nicostratus's wife, who had been mute for six years; he brought her, Nicostratus and his entire household to baptism; he healed the two ailing sons of Claudius the commander and brought him and his household to baptism; he healed Tranquillinus, the father of Marcus and Marcellinus, of gout and pains in his legs which had troubled him for eleven years, and brought him to baptism together with his entire household; he healed the Roman eparch Chromatius of the same illness and brought him and his son Tiburtius to baptism.

The first of them to suffer was St. Zoe, whom they seized at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, where she was praying to God. After torturing her, they threw her into the Tiber River. They then seized Tiburtius, and the judge placed live coals before him, telling him to choose between life and death, that is, either to cast incense on the coals and to cense the idols or to stand barefoot on the hot coals. St. Tiburtius made the sign of the Cross, stood barefoot on the hot coals, and remained unharmed. After this, he was beheaded. Nicostratus was killed with a stake, Tranquillinus was drowned, and Marcus and Marcellinus were tortured and pierced with spears. Then Sebastian was brought before Emperor Diocletian. The emperor rebuked him for his betrayal, but Sebastian said: "I have always prayed to my Christ for your health and for the peace of the Roman Empire." The emperor ordered that he be stripped naked and shot through with arrows. The soldiers shot him through with arrows until the martyr was so completely covered with arrows that his body was not seen because of them. When all thought that he was dead, he appeared alive and completely healthy. Then the pagans killed him with staves.

He suffered gloriously for Christ his Lord and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ in the year 287 at the time of Diocletian the Emperor and Gaius the Bishop of Rome.



HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyr Sebastian

Holy Sebastian was covered with arrows-
With a hair shirt of arrows his body was clothed.
But, beneath the arrows, his soul was unscathed;
His heart was raised to the heavens in prayer.

Sebastian endured suffering for Christ.
What are mighty kingdoms, what are great riches,
Compared with this honor, compared with this illumination-
To be struck by arrows for the sake of the Living God?

Wonderful Sebastian desired this:
To be crucified for the crucified Savior,
To confirm the truth by suffering and blood,
To witness the Faith before heaven and earth.

The All-seeing Lord, Who sees all creation,
Measured and counted every drop of blood,
And rewarded Sebastian in the Eternal Kingdom,
Showering him with blessings without measure.

O Martyr most-glorious, who suffered for Christ,
And by your suffering enlarged the Church:
Pray to God for the Church on earth,
That it become ever more beautiful, and all the more great.




Reference: The Prologue from Ohrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich.


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