On that cold January day, all I could think of during Holy Hour were the missing women from our area. A serial killer was on the prowl, and every few weeks, another woman disappeared from her home. Some of the bodies were recovered; others remained unfound. Overcome with fear of this lurking evil and dumbfounded about how to pray for the missing victims, I turned to the Lord and begged for guidance. “Magnificat,” came to mind, so I opened the current issue of that devotional, flipped through it, and was attracted to an article about St. Sebastian. I don’t know why it drew my attention; I didn’t know anything about him, but I started reading anyway.I learned that this third Century Christian had been martyred for the Faith by the Emperor Diocletian. The target of a firing squad, he was riddled with arrows and left for dead. A woman by the name of Irene carried his body away for burial, but he wasn’t dead. She tended to his wounds and revitalized him; however, when the Emperor discovered he had survived the execution, he had him bludgeoned to death and ordered that his body be dumped in the sewers of Rome so there was no way the Christians could give him a suitable burial or venerate his remains. Sebastian’s final word, though, had yet to be spoken. He appeared to Lucina, another holy woman, and pointed the way to his body which she recovered from its hiding place and buried in the catacombs, near St. Peter and St. Paul, as St. Sebastian requested in the vision.As I read the final words of the account, I was struck by the similarity between what this early Christian had endured and the victims of the serial killer had endured. Both he and they had been murdered; both his body and theirs had been cast away without a decent burial in a place unknown to family and friends. Both his soul and theirs cried out for justice. In that moment, I knew God had enlightened my mind about how to pray for the missing women. I’d ask the intercession of St. Sebastian for these poor souls. Surely, I reasoned, he understood what it was like to be murdered and then thrown away like garbage. He wanted his body to be found and treated with reverence. Surely, he’d want the same for these women. And so I started my pleas for his help.The very next day, my daughter, Catherine, called from Virginia. She had found out a month earlier that she was pregnant, and we were all thrilled at the prospect of our grandchild’s arrival in August. “Any ideas about names?” I asked.“Josh [her husband] and I can’t agree on a girl’s name,” she said. "Thank God, though, we do agree on a boy’s name.”“And what’s that?”“Sebastian,” she said matter-of-factly.“Sebastian?” I repeated.“Yes. Don’t you like it?”“You won’t believe this, Catherine . . .” I told her as I launched into the incredible story of my first-time acquaintance with that name the day before. A few months later, after Catherine had undergone her second or third ultrasound, she called to inform me that no girl’s name would be necessary. Their little boy would be named Sebastian.I’m in awe of God’s ways. I don’t begin to understand them. One day, I prayed for clarity and direction as I interceded for missing women, and God introduced me to St. Sebastian, a man whose life [and name] I had never before considered, and the next day I discovered that his was the very name my daughter and her husband had chosen for their son-to-be. What a wonderful way to make the acquaintance of a 3rd Century saint and his 21st Century namesake! Since that time, St. Sebastian has indeed come to my aid. With the exception of two, all of the missing women for whom I was praying have been found. I haven’t given up, though. I know that the good saint is still at work, as the day of their discovery draws closer. And I also know that when my little grandson is old enough to understand, his Mammy will relate a story he will marvel at all his life—the tale of the two Sebastians.


Bonnie T.  Barry

Sunset, United States

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