The Roman legionnaire Sebastian was to be executed for professing his Christian faith. Miraculously, he survived. In the care of the Christian widow Irene and her maid, he recovered his health. He professed his faith anew and was finally executed after all, thus becoming a martyr. The painting was presumably executed by a member of Annibale Caracci’s circle in Rome, as is suggested by the particular treatment of the figures and evidence of the study of nature and the art of antiquity. It has recently been suggested that the artist was Sisto Badalocchio.