Sebastian is one of the most honored of the canonized martyrs of the early church. Though a Christian from his youth he concealed his faith for the purpose of aiding his co-religionists and rose to eminence in the Roman army. Having at last announced his creed the emperor Diocletian, after in vain urging Sebastian to remain on the side of the conservative pagans, ordered him to be shot to death by a band of Mauritanian archers. Transfixed with numerous arrows and left for dead upon the field, he was found by a Christian widow, Irene, who took him to her house, where with the aid of her daughter, she extracted the darts and restored the hero to a life which was forfeited a short time later, when Diocletian had him effectually beaten to death with clubs in the amphitheater. The painting represents the amateur surgical operation and depicts with startling intensity the agony of the victim and the mental sufferings of his preservers. [Pp. 16-17; see entry 04130001 for related commentary.]
Rochester Academy of Art. (Incorporated 1874.) 40 & 42 State Street. Catalogue of the Works of Art, exhibited at their First Exhibition. In June, 1875. Rochester, N.Y.: Union and Advertiser Company's Book and Job Print. 1875.