Both of the great saints commemorated today turn our mind to Rome, to martyrdom, and to the Christian underground cemeteries of the catacombs!
Martyrdom of St. Sebastian by Il Sodoma (+1549AD)
Today is the feast of the Roman Martyr, St. Sebastian, patron saint of athletes and archers. Tradition has it that he was a member of the Praetorian Guard under the Emperor Diocletian who was condemned to death for his Faith. While surviving the ordeal of the archers' field, he would be clubbed to death, and this in the 280s AD.
For more, you should note:
Catholic Saints Info: St. Sebastian
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Sebastian
Golden Legend (13th century): St. Sebastian
San Sebastiano fuori le mura, Roma, Lazio, Italia.
The burial place of St. Sebastian lies on the old Appian Way to the south of the old city of Rome. It lies in a part of the countryside rich with catacombs, and, indeed, the Basilica of San Sebastiano fuori le mura lies above its own set of catacombs. It was restored in the early 17th century at the behest of Scipio Cardinal Borghese, nephew of Pope Paul V. The basilica was one of the Seven Major Basilicas of Rome (the four patriarchal basilicas, along with Santa Croce, San Lorenzo, and San Sebastiano) and long a focus of pilgrimage. It also happens to house a splendid bust of Jesus Christ by Gianlorenzo Bernini.
You can visit their site here: Catacombs of San Sebastiano Official Site
Pope St. Fabian, Giovanni di Paolo, c. 1450.
Today, 20 January, we also commemorate Pope St. Fabian (+250AD), a victim of the Decian persecution, who also rests in the same Basilica of San Sebastiano, after having originally been buried in the Crypt of the Popes in the Catacombs of San Callisto (Catacombs of San Callisto Official Site).
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope St. Fabian
May we respond to the great witness of these Roman martyrs!