Fabian was a pope, and Sebastian was believed to be a soldier. Both were faithful to Christ until death. The traditional story told about Saint Sebastian is that he was an army officer who was condemned to death for his belief in Jesus. His fellow soldiers shot him with arrows. Surviving this, he was clubbed to death.
The only actual fact we have is that Sebastian was an early Christian martyr under the reign of Emperor Diocletian.
More is known about Saint Fabian, who was pope in 236 during unstable political times. Philip, an ambitious and ruthless man, killed Emperor Maximus and made himself emperor. Later, he regretted his behavior and changed the government policy from persecution of Christians to tolerance for them. For the first time, being a Christian was legal, but peace for the Christians did not last long. Philip was killed by his lieutenant, Decius, who became the next emperor. Decius believed that his empire could be saved only if the pagan customs of ancient Rome were restored. He sent an edict that commanded the death penalty for all who would not give up their following of Christ. Pope Fabian eagerly died for the faith. Following his example, many Christians died as martyrs, though many others denied their faith in Christ.
Have the students make word searches or word puzzles using the names of martyrs. Let them exchange puzzles and work them.
Ask the students to imagine that they are living during a time of persecution. Have them consider what their response would be if they were arrested for being a follower of Christ. Tell them to write a story about it.
Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio
Image credit: Saint Sebastian and Saint Fabian by unknown artist, 15th century. Public Domain via Wikimedia.