April 18, 2021
patron saint runners

Patron Saint of Running

Is there a patron saint of runners? Anyone who knows anything at all about Catholicism knows that there is a patron saint for anything and everything. YES, this means that there’s even a patron saint for us runners.

Meet Saint Sebastian, patron saint of runners

St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes—including us runners. You’ll usually find him depicted in paintings tied to a tree and shot up with arrows.


Sebastian was a Christian when he joined the Roman army in 283. His excellent service led him to move up, and he eventually became one of Emperor Diocletian’s Praetorian guards. During this time, he worked to advance the Christian faith. He helped imprisoned Christians to hold on to their faith, and worked to convert many pagans.

When converts included prominent Romans, Sebastian was found out and arrested. The furious Emperor Diocletian had Sebastian tied to a stake and used for target practice by his archers. (Thus, his depiction in artwork as of Sebastian tied up and covered in arrows.) He was left for dead.

When Irene of Rome discovered that he was still alive, she took him in and nursed him back to health. Sebastian returned to confront Diocletian, and surprised him near a stairwell. Diocletian was in shock to see Sebastian alive. Sebastian took the emperor to task loudly, denouncing him for his persecution of Christians. The emperor soon recovered from his shock, and ordered Sebastian to be beaten to death with clubs and tossed into the sewers.

From the website Catholic.org:

His body was recovered by a Christian woman, named Lucina, and she secretly buried him in the catacombs beneath Rome. Nearly 80 years after his death, around 367, his remains were moved to a basilica in Rome, built by Pope Damasus I. His body, or at least some relics from his body were reportedly removed and shared with a community of monks in France. His cranium was sent to a German monastery where it was placed in a special silver case in 934. The relic remains in its case today in a special reliquary in Ebersberg.

Popular prayer to Saint Sebastian:

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.

Image by Hendrick ter BrugghenWeb Gallery of Art:  ImageInfo about artwork, Public Domain, Link

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Daniel LaPonsie

Daniel is a writer and runner. He was born in west Michigan (where the north begins and the waters run pure). He currently writes, runs, and works in beautiful Tennessee.

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