Coming up Tuesday the 20th is the feast day of St. Sebastian, one of my personal favorite saints. I have a St. Sebastian rosary you see me wearing a lot – it’s made of a wood-bead rosary I inherited from my great-grandmother and has a medal of St. Sebastian where the crucifix would be on a regular rosary. (The crucifix was lost in the early 90s in Birmingham, Alabama — it’s a long story involving a bona-fide, animal-sacrificing type of Satanist [the kind a lot of Satanists want to tell you aren’t real Satanists], a handful of brujas, a ceremonial magician — now a Gnostic Bishop — who taught me some stuff I didn’t know about the Goetia as I dealt with this crucifix problem, and a strip-bar DJ who was a huge biker with a heart of gold. I couldn’t make this stuff up, guys.)
Anyway, St. Sebastian was a Roman martyr and is frequently pictured tied to a tree and shot full of arrows. His legend has it that those arrows didn’t kill him – St. Irene, and maybe some angels, helped heal him. But the Romans eventually got him anyway, beating him to death with clubs.
He was petitioned for protection from the plague in medieval times; in modern times he is the patron saint of archers, athletes, and people with HIV and AIDS. There is a huge artistic tradition in the last two centuries associating St. Sebastian with gay people, especially gay men, and many consider him the patron saint of homosexual men.
In many vodoun houses, he is associated with Gran Bois.