Seven special masses will be celebrated on Wednesday, January 20, at the 128-year-old Basilica Minore de San Sebastian in Plaza del Carmen, Quiapo, Manila, in solemn observance of the Feast of San Sebastian, the revered patron saint of athletes and soldiers.
The holy masses will be held at 6 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 4 p.m., and at 6 p.m. The holy masses at 10:30 a.m. and at 6 p.m. will be streamed live.
Only about 150 persons will be allowed inside the minor basilica to observe physical distancing.
Commemorative masses will also be celebrated by the Diocese of Bacolod City as well as in Lumban, Laguna in honor of one of the most illustrious martyrs of the Roman Catholic faith.
A native of France, St. Sebastian died fighting for his faith during the third century, when Christians were being killed and persecuted.
According to traditional belief, he was killed during the Roman emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians.
He was initially tied to a post or tree and shot with arrows, though this did not kill him.
He was, according to tradition, rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome, which became a popular subject in 17th-century painting.
In all versions of the story, shortly after his recovery, he went to Diocletian to warn him about his sins, and as a result was clubbed to death.
He was buried along the Appian Way in Rome, Italy, where the Basilica of San Sebastian, one of the seven chief churches of Rome, stands today. Over the years, the church has become a popular pilgrimage site and tourist attraction.
The Catholic Church considers St. Sebastian as “a fervent servant of Jesus Christ.”
Many churches and schools all over the world, including the Philippines, were placed under his patronage and named in his honor and memory.
San Sebastian is also venerated in the Orthodox Church.