20 January 2012

20 January - Saints Fabian and Sebastian

Weather:  On Saint Sebastian, we are quit of winter  [Not noticeably]

When the bearded saint,
And the arrow-pierced saint
And the combed saint have passed
Then the cold is over.

[bearded – St. Anthony, 17 January; arrow-pierced – St. Sebastian, 20 January; combed – St. Blaise, 4 February]

Another piece of weather lore says that the last 12 days of January rule the weather for the year, but I don't know if it is collectively or to be applied to the corresponding months.

I have kept track of weather through the 12 days of Christmas, and the first 12 days of January.  Someone else can keep track of the last 12 days.

“At Rome, the birthday of St. Fabian, pope, who suffered martyrdom in the time of Decius, and was buried in the cemetery of Callistus.  In the same place, in the catacombs, the martyr St. Sebastian.  He was commander of the first cohort, under the emperor Diocletian, but for professing Christianity he was bound to a tree in the centre of a vast field, shot with arrows by the soldiers, and beaten with clubs until he expired.”

Saint Fabian was Pope from 236 to 250, a period of relative peace for the Church, between the persecutions of Maximinus Thrax and Decius.  He is said to have got a lot done, reorganizing the clergy, building churches, and sending missionary bishops into Gaul, among them St. Denis.  He was martyred under Decius.

The Golden Legend relates that Fabian was chosen Pope when a white dove descended from heaven and settled on his head. 

Saint Sebastian was a young man in the Roman army, highly favored by the Emperor Diocletian, and secretly a Christian "... but his faith only rendered him more loyal to his masters; more faithful in all his engagements; more mild, more charitable; while his favor with his prince, and his popularity with the troops, enabled him to protect those who were persecuted for Christ's sake, and to convert many to the truth."

The secrecy, however, couldn't last; the emperor found out and ordered Sebastian to be shot full of arrows until he died.  He was left for dead on the field; a pious widow named Irene came at night to retrieve his body and give it a decent burial, and found instead that he still lived.  She tended him until he recovered.  Sebastian was determined to reproach the emperor with his intolerance and cruelty.  Surprised and enraged, the emperor sentenced him to be beaten to death with clubs, and this time they made sure of it.  He died in 288.  He is the patron of archers and pin-makers (for obvious reasons), lace-makers (for less obvious reasons, but along the same lines as the first two), athletes and soldiers, and was invoked by those suffering from the burning arrows of pestilence.

O how the renowned martyr Sebastian shone with a wonderful grace, he who bore the insignia of a soldier but urged on by a palm from the brothers, greatly strengthened fearful hearts, since the heavenly word had been conferred upon him.

Pray for us, blessed martyr Sebastian
That we may deserve to pass unharmed through the plague and obtain the promise of Christ.

O God who so eagerly strengthened blessed Sebastian Thy martyr in Thy faith and love that by no allurements of the flesh, by no threats of tyrants, and by no swords or arrows of executioners could he be recalled from Thy worship, grant to us unhappy sinners, by his deserved favors and intercessions, help in tribulation, solace in persecution, a cure in every time against the plague, so that we be able to contend strongly against all the traps of the devil, to despise the world and those things that are in the world, and to dread none of its misfortunes, so that we may be able to obtain happily those things that through Thy inspiration we desire.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, O God, world without end.  Amen.

Artwork: Saints Fabian and Sebastian by an unknown Spanish painter of the Aragonese School, late 15th century.  The Hermitage, St. Petersburg.