Vembar & St. Sebastian

According to History, Vembar along with few other coastal villages were the places visited by St. Xavier. Vembar is one of the ancient parishes of the Pearl Fishery Coast and The Holy Ghost Church is a marvellous church based here. St. Xavier who came in 1542, visited Vembar several times and had given references about this village in his letters. The Jesuit Record of 1570 notes that a large beautiful church was at Vembar. The present church’s (Holy Spirit Church, Vembar) foundation was laid in 1903 and completed in 1915.

“St. Sebastian is the protector saint of Vembar”

St. Sebastian from Milan (256 AD – 288 AD) lived way before other known saints existed, yet the awareness in India is minimal. There are very few churches in India dedicated to St. Sebastian and Vembar is one such village which has a long standing relationship with St. Sebastian. Every year the 20th of January is celebrated as the feast of St. Sebastian in Vembar with much fanfare and grandeur. People from all over India & Ceylon (Sri Lanka) who have grass root connection to Vembar participate in this feast.

About St. Sebastian

Sebastian was named captain in the praetorian guards in Roman Army by Emperor Diocletian, as did Emperor Maximian when Diocletian went to the East. Neither knew that Sebastian was a Christian. During those times, worshipping Christ or embracing Christianity was considered to be against the Romans and people were persecuted for embracing Christ. Roman Emperor Constantine (306 AD – 337 AD) was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity and was instrumental in spreading worldwide.

Mark and Marcellian were twin brothers and were deacons. They were from a distinguished family and were both married, living in Rome. During that time the brothers refused to sacrifice to the Roman gods and were arrested. Sebastian was known for having encouraged in their faith and successively Sebastian converted many people to Christians and made them realise Christ.

When it was discovered that Sebastian was indeed a Christian, he was ordered to be killed. He was shot with arrows and left for dead, but when Irene of Rome, went to retrieve his body to bury it, she found he was still alive and nursed him back to health. Soon after, Sebastian met the Emperor, denounced him for his cruelty to Christians, and was beaten to death on the Emperor’s orders. St. Sebastian had been thought to have been killed by the arrows, and yet was not, and then later was killed by the same emperor who had ordered him shot, he is sometimes known as the saint who was martyred twice.

St. Sebastian is also known as:
Saint of Archers
Saint of Athletes
Warrior Saint
Saint who martyred twice
Protector against Plagues

by Anton Niresh

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