OL of Czestochowa Ornament (SOLD)
Jan. 20, St Sebastian
On þone twentigðan dæg þæs monðes bið sancte Sebastianes tid þæs æðelan martyres, þone Dioclitianus se casere–he wæs hæðen– het hine mid strælum ofscotian, þæt he wæs þara swa full swa igl þæt deor bið byrsta, ond mid þy he hine ne mihte swa acwellan. þa het he hine mid stengum þyrscan oð þæt he his gast onsende; ond his lichoma wæs gebyrged æt Rome on þære stowe Catacumbe.
On the twentieth day of the month is the feast of the noble martyr St Sebastian, whom the emperor Diocletian (he was a heathen) ordered shot with arrows, so that he was as full of them as the wild animal, the hedgehog, is of bristles, and (yet) he might not kill him in that manner. Then he ordered that he be beaten with cudgels until he gave up his spirit; and his body was buried at Rome in the place called the catacombs.
— from British Library manuscript Cotton Julius A x,. typeset in Herzefeld, ed., An Old English Martyrology, EETS o.s. 116 (1900).
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.
Cosmas and Damian (unfortunately reproduced in many hoodoo-type places as Comas or Cosmos and Damien) were twin brothers and physicians who lived in Asia Minor in the 3rd century. They got martyred during the reign of Diocletian. Diocletian, an autocrat and anti-republican who eventually took the name Dominus et Deus (Lord and God), made a lot of martyrs. He ordered the greatest persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire that the Empire had yet seen. (This is the sweep that got St. Sebastian, one of my dear personal saints).
Cosmas and Damian are, predictably, called on for cases of illness, and as the patron saints of doctors and pharmacists.
In voodoo, they are often associated with the loa the Marassa ("Twins").
Prayer for communion, ref Ps. 78, 2. 11. "They have given the dead bodies of Thy servants to be meat for the fowls of the air: the flesh of Thy Saints for the beasts of the earth: according to the greatness of Thy arm, take possession of the children of those who have been put to death."