St. Sebastian never played sports or any athletic competition. So it’s quite baffling to those who don’t know him why is he the patron saint of athletes. To answer that question, it all boils down to St. Sebastian’s physical stamina.
Stories say that Roman authorities tried to kill Sebastian, commander of the Royal court, through a volley of arrows. Soon after, the future saint looked more like a hedgehog than a man. (Read: Feast Day Prayer to Saint Stephen, the First Martyr)
He returned later to taunt the Emperor where he was beaten to death and thrown into a sewer. This ability to suffer such great pain has earned him the association with sports and he became the patron saint of athletes.
If you are an athlete or you have a loved one who is competing in some sports events, here is a prayer to St. Sebastian on his feast day asking him to intercede for athletes to remain steadfast!
A Prayer to St. Sebastian for Athletes
Dear Commander at the Roman Emperor’s court, you chose to be also a soldier of Christ and dared to spread faith in the King of Kings, for which you were condemned to die.
Your body, however, proved athletically strong and the executing arrows extremely weak. So another means to kill you was chosen and you gave your life to the Lord.
May athletes be always as strong in their faith as their patron saint so clearly has been. Amen.