Historical Figures

Saint Sebastian (Christianity)

Saint Sebastian served as a soldier in the Roman army, but when he was discovered to be a Christian, the Roman emperor ordered him shot by his own archers. He miraculously survived the arrows, however, which led to the arrow becoming his identifying attribute. Eventually he was martyred by being stoned to death. Saint Sebastian's help was often sought against plague, since the sores and swellings of the disease reminded people of the arrow wounds in Saint Sebastian's flesh. He is usually shown wearing a loincloth and tied to a tree or a column, with arrows penetrating his body.

Excerpt from

Carl Wuellner, DMA Label text (1971.81), With Black Lines Only: Engravings and Woodcuts by Albrecht Dürer, 2003.

Web Resources

  • Painting Saints~ Read more about the ways saints appear in art, their attributes, and examples of these religious figures in works from the National Gallery of Art, London.