Saint Sebastian is Everywhere

On January 21, while inSan Cristobal de Las Casas we will take in the cultural highlight of our time in Mexico. The Fiesta de San Sabastian celebrates the encounter between the Pre-Columbian and Spanish worlds and is timed to coincide with the Mayan end of year ceremonies. This lively and elaborate festival spans multiple villages and includes traditional dances, beautiful and colourful indigenous dress and an even a reenactment of a naval battle.  

Here's 10 interesting things about Saint Sebastian, the namesake for one of the Chiapas regions most intersting festivals.

  1. After converting a Roman governor to Christianity, Sebastian was discovered to be Christian by the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, and ordered to be tied to a tree and shot to death by archers. 
  2. It is Saint Sebastian's martyrdom (known as the only saint to be martyred twice) and the belief in his protection that is celebrated during the festival in Mexico.
  3. In the American horror film, Carrie, it's a figure of Saint Sebastian that appears in the prayer closet not one of a crucified Christ, as often thought. 
  4. Saint Sebastian is celebrated all over the world in places like India, Puerto Rico, Brazil and of course Mexico. 
  5. Saint Sebastian is known as the patron saint of archers, athletes, soldiers and holy deaths.
  6. In The Godfather Part III, Michael Corleone, is awarded the highest honour in the church, as the Commander of the Order of Saint Sebastian.
  7. In 1968, Muhammad Ali was pictured as a modern day Saint Sebastian. It made for one of the most iconic magazine covers ever when George Lois, Esquire's former art director and the main inspiration for Mad Men's Don Draper, convinced the former champ that his own persecution shared a connection with the Saints.    
  8. Saint Sebastian did not die after being shot by archers but was saved and secretly nursed back to health by Irene of Rome. He was then sentenced to death by the Roman Emperor for a second time and beaten to death and his body tossed in the sewers.  
  9. Saint Sebastian has become a homoerotic icon in recent years continuing a reputation that calls for him to be all things, to all men.    
  10. The video for R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion makes repeated use of images of Saint Sebastian.