Saint Sebastian (Sp. San Sebastian), a seaport of Spain, capital of Guip˙zcoa, on the bay of Biscay, 39 m. N. N. W. of Pamplona; pop. about 14,000. It occupies a low isthmus uniting Mt. Urgull, on which is the citadel, to the mainland, and is walled and strongly fortified. The harbor is small. The city contains several churches and convents, civil and military hospitals, and public squares. It was captured by the French in 1719, 1794, and 1808, and by the English with great loss on Aug. 31, 1813, when most of it was burned.
Saint Sebastian, a Roman martyr, born at Narbonne in Gaul about 255, died in Rome, Jan. 20, 288. According to the "Acts of St. Sebastian," written before 403 and attributed to St. Ambrose, he was educated in Milan, became a captain of the praetorian guard, and distinguished himself by his zeal in spreading the Christian faith. Being summoned for this before the emperor Diocletian, he refused to abjure Christ, and was shot with arrows and left for dead, but was found still alive by a Christian woman, through whose care he was restored. Having ventured to appear before Diocletian to remonstrate against his cruelty, he was beaten to death with clubs and his body thrown into a sewer, but afterward recovered. A church was built over his tomb by Pope Damasus (366-384); and his remains, according to some writers, were given to the abbot of St. Denis, near Paris, by Pope Euge-nius II. (824-827), but were deposited at St.
Medard in Soissons. Portions of his relics were distributed throughout Christendom. He became one of the most popular saints of the middle ages, innumerable churches were named after him, and the acts of his martyrdom were a favorite theme for artists. He is generally represented as tied to a tree and pierced with arrows. His feast is celebrated on Jan. 20 in the Latin church, and on Dec. 20 by the Greeks.