Posted in MARTYRS, PATRONAGE - ALTAR SERVERS and/or DEACONS, PATRONAGE - BREWERS, PATRONAGE - CHEFS and/or BAKERS, CONFECTIONERS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 10 August – St Lawrence (Died 258) Martyr “Keeper of the Treasures of he Church.”

Saint of the Day – 10 August – St Lawrence (Died 258) Martyr “Keeper of the Treasures of he Church.”

St Lawrence, Martyr
By Fr Francis Xavier Weninger SJ (1805-1888)


The many and high encomiums [praises] which were paid to St Lawrence by the most ancient and illustrious of the holy Fathers of the Church, St Augustine, St Ambrose, St Leo I, St Maximus and St Peter Chrysologus, are the surest sign that this Saint has always been considered one of the most famous Martyrs, who gave their blood for Christ.

He was born of Christian parents, in the middle of the Third Century, at Osca, a City in Aragon. His father’s name was Orentius, his mother’s, Patientia, both are honoured as Saints. Such parents gave a holy education to their son. He early evinced, on all occasions, an especial love for God, a fearless constancy in the true faith and a watchful care over the preservation of his purity. While yet young in years, he went to Rome and won, by his blameless life, the highest regard of all who came in contact with him. Pope Xystus or Sixtus Ordained him Deacon. His functions were to serve the Pope at the Altar, to take charge of the treasures of the church and to distribute the revenues which were destined for the maintenance of the sextons and the poor.

A terrible persecution of the Christians took place at the period of which we speak. Pope Sixtus was seized and thrown into the Mamertine prison. Lawrence seeing him, from a distance, dragged along, ran towards him and bitterly weeping, said: “Father, where are you going without your son? Holy Pontiff, where are you hastening without your deacon? You have never been wont to offer the Holy Sacrifice without me, your servant. In what have I displeased you, O my Father? Have you found me unworthy of you and of your sacred service? Prove me now and see if you have chosen a fit servant in trusting me with the dispensing of the Blood of Christ!” This and more said the Saint, desiring to suffer with St Sixtus for the Lord’s sake. The holy Pope replied: “I do not leave you, my son but you will have to suffer a great trial. We being old, have not much to endure but you, strong in your youth, must gain a more glorious victory over the tyrant. Do not weep. In three days, you will follow me. Go now and take care of the Treasures of the Church that are in your keeping.

Lawrence, comforted by the prophecy of the holy Pope, went immediately and secured the sacred vessels of the Altar and the vestments of the Priests, distributed among the poor the money which had been collected for them, visited the Christians assembled in different houses and subterranean vaults, exhorted all to constancy and employed the whole night in deeds of charity and humility. The following day, when the Pope was being led away to execution, the holy Levite approached him again, saying: “Holy Father, do not leave me; for, the treasures which you committed to my care, are all distributed.” The Pope comforted the Saint as he had done the day before and was led away and ended his life by the sword.

Meanwhile, some of the soldiers, having heard Lawrence speak of treasures, informed the Emperor Valerian of the fact, and that tyrant, as avaricious as he was cruel, had Lawrenc apprehended and gave him, in charge of Hippolytus, an officer, who placed him in a prison where several malefactors were kept. One of these, Lucilius, had wept so much during his imprisonment, that he had become blind. St Lawrence, pitying him, advised him to embrace the Christian faith and be baptised, as by that, his sight would be restored. Lucilius followed his advice and soon after Baptism, his sight returned. Hippolytus, touched by the grace of God at this miracle, was converted with his whole household. The next day, the Emperor commanded that Lawrence should be brought to him.

The valiant Confessor of Christ rejoiced at this message and said to Hippolytus: “Let us go, for two glorious crowns are prepared for you and me.” The Emperor asked him who he was, whence he came and where he had concealed the Treasures of the Church. The first and second questions Lawrence fearlessly answered, saying: “I am a Christian, born in Spain.” To the third, he made answer, that if the Emperor would allow him a little time, he would gather the Treasures and show them to him. Delighted at this, the Emperor willingly granted him the desired time but ordered Hippolytus, not to leave his side for a moment, lest he should escape.

The Saint assembled all the poor he could find and leading them to the tyrant, said: “Behold, these are the Treasures of our Church.” The Emperor, regarding this as an insult, was greatly enraged and swore by the gods to be revenged. He gave Lawrence over to the prefect with the command to torture him in the most painful manner, if he refused to worship the idols.
The prefect, who was as cruel as the Emperor himself, ordered his brutes to tear off the Saint’s clothes and to lash him, like a vile slave, till his whole body was a mass of blood and wounds. After this, he displayed a great many instruments of torture, with the menace that they would be used upon him, if he longer refused to worship the gods. Lawrence looked unconcernedly upon them and said: “They cannot frighten me. I have long desired to suffer for the sake of Christ. Your idols are not worthy to be worshipped, they are no gods and I will never sacrifice to them.

Hardly had these words passed his lips, when the holy man was stretched upon the rack, then raised high in the air and his whole body whipped with scourges on the ends of which were fastened iron stars or spurs. After this, they applied lighted torches to his mangled body. The Martyr’s constancy could not be shaken. Turning his eyes heavenward, he only asked for strength to endure.

… Early on the next day, the prefect ordered the executioners to make an iron bed in the form of a gridiron, put live coals under it, stretch and bind the Saint upon it and slowly roast him. The command was fulfilled to the great horror of all present. The Saint, however, lay as quietly on the red hot gridiron as if it had been a bed of roses, only saying at intervals: “Receive, O Lord, this burnt-offering as an agreeable fragrance.” His countenance beamed with heavenly joy and the Christians, who were present, said that a divine light had surrounded him and his body exuded a sweet fragrance.

After having been burned thus a long time, he turned his eyes towards the prefect and said: “I am sufficiently roasted on one side, turn me over and eat my flesh.” How the tyrant received these words can easily be imagined. The Saint, however, continued to be cheerful and filled with divine consolation. He praised God and thanked Him for the grace vouchsafed him to die for his faith.

At last, with his eyes raised to Heaven, he gave his heroic soul into the hands of his Redeemer, on the 10th of August, 258. Many of the heathens, who were present, were converted by this glorious Martyrdom to the Faith of Christ.

Posted in FEASTS and SOLEMNITIES, PATRONAGE - ALTAR SERVERS and/or DEACONS, PATRONAGE - BREWERS, PATRONAGE - CHEFS and/or BAKERS, CONFECTIONERS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of the Day – 10 August – St Lawrence of Rome (Died 258) – Martyr

Saint of the Day – 10 August – St Lawrence of Rome (Died 258) – Martyr and Deacon (Archdeacon – distributor of alms and “Keeper of the Treasures of the Church”) Born at Huesca, Spain –  cooked to death on a gridiron on 10 August 258). St Lawrence was one of the seven Deacons of the City of Rome, under Saint Pope Sixtus II who were martyred in the persecution of the Christians by decree of the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered in 258.    His remains were  buried in the cemetery of Saint Cyriaca on the road to Tivoli, Italy.   His tomb was opened by Pelagius to inter the body of Saint Stephen the Martyr and his mummified head removed to the Quirinal Chapel.   The gridiron believed to have been his deathbed is in San Lorenzo in Lucina and his garments in Our Lady’s Chapel in the Lateran Palace.   Patronages – against fire, against lumbago, of archives, archivists, armories, armourers, brewers, butchers, chefs, cooks, comedians, comediennes, cutlers, deacons, glaziers, laundry workers, librarians, libraries, paupers, the poor, restauranteurs, schoolchildren, students, seminarians, stained glass workers, tanners, vine growers, vintners, wine makers, Ceylon, Sri Lanka, 38 cities and dioceses.

ST LAWRENCE

Saint Lawrence was chief of the seven Roman deacons of Pope Sixtus II who had been his mentor in Spain and taken him to Rome and ordained him as Deacon there, after he had been called to the Holy Office.   In 258, Emperor Valerian increased his persecutions of the Christians.   One day when Pope Sixtus II was in the cemetery of Saint Calistus celebrating Mass accompanied by some members of his clergy, he was arrested.   Along with him, the other six Roman deacons were arrested.   As the soldiers took the Pontiff to be put to death, Lawrence followed him in anguish crying out:  “Where are you going, my father, without your son? Where are you going, Holy Pontiff, without your deacon?   Isn’t it the custom to offer the sacrifice with an assistant?   Let me prove I am worthy of the choice you made when you entrusted me with the distribution of the Blood of Our Lord.” 

ST LAWRENCE 3
St Pope Sixtus II with the St Lawrence

The Pope replied to Saint Lawrence:  “I am not leaving you, my son.  They are lenient on old men, not the youth. A greater combat is reserved for you.  You will follow me in three days.” With the Pontiff’s execution, Lawrence was the highest ranking church authority left in Rome.

Saint Lawrence was brought before Cornelius Secularis, prefect of Rome under the Emperor Valerian, who, according to Dom Prosper Guéranger in his Liturgical Year:  “aimed at ruining the Christians by prohibiting their assemblies, putting their chief men to death, and confiscating their property.”   Saint Lawrence asked for a short delay, so he could gather these riches for the prefect and true to the promise of Pope Sixtus, returned three days after the pontiff’s death to hand them over.   However, heeding Pope Sixtus II’s final words, Lawrence used his three days to distribute the material wealth of the Church to the poor, before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it.

When the archdeacon returned, instead of bringing vessels of gold and silver, he brought the poor of the city, saying, “Behold, these choice pearls, these sparkling gems that adorn the temple, these sacred virgins, I mean, and these widows who refuse second marriage…. Behold then, all our riches.”   In response to his boldness, Cornelius ordered the scourging and torture of Saint Lawrence upon the rack.

st lawrence arrested

From the Liturgical Year:
“…Lawrence was taken down from the rack about midday.   In his prison, however, he took no rest but wounded and bleeding as he was, he baptised the converts won to Christ by the sight of his courageous suffering.   He confirmed their faith and fired their souls with a martyr’s intrepidity.   When the evening hour summoned Rome to its pleasures, the prefect recalled the executioners to their work, for a few hours’ rest had sufficiently restored their energy to enable them to satisfy his cruelty.” 

Surrounded by this ill-favoured company, the prefect thus addressed the valiant deacon:  ‘Sacrifice to the gods, or else the whole night long shall be witness of your torments.’ ‘My night has no darkness,’answered Laurence, ‘and all things are full of light to me.’   They struck him on the mouth with stone, but he smiled and said, ‘I give Thee thanks, O Christ.’

Then an iron bed or gridiron with three bars was brought in and the saint was stripped of his garments and extended upon it while burning coals were placed beneath it.   As they were holding him down with iron fork, Lawrence said ‘I offer myself as a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness.’   The executioners continually stirred up the fire and brought fresh coals, while they still held him down with their forks.   Then the saint said:  ‘Learn, unhappy man, how great is the power of my God; for your burning coals give me refreshment but they will be your eternal punishment. I call Thee, O Lord, to witness:  when I was accused, I did not deny Thee;  when I was questioned, I confessed Thee, O Christ; on the red-hot coals I gave Thee thanks.’   And with his countenance radiant with heavenly beauty, he continued:  ‘Yea, I give Thee thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ, for that Thou hast deigned to strengthen me.’ He then raised his eyes to his judge and said:  ‘See, this side is well roasted; turn me on the other and eat.’ Then, continuing his canticle of praise to God [he said]:  ‘I give Thee thanks, O Lord, that I have merited to enter into Thy dwelling place.’

As he was on the point of death, he remembered the Church.  The thought of the eternal Rome gave him fresh strength and he breathed forth this ecstatic prayer:  ‘O Christ, only God, O Splendour, O Power of the Father, O Maker of heaven and earth and builder of this city’s walls!   Thou has placed Rome’s sceptre high over all;  Thou hast willed to subject the world to it, in order to unite under one law the nations which differ in manners, customs, language, genius, and sacrifice.   Behold the whole human race has submitted to its empire and all discord and dissensions disappear in its unity.   Remember thy purpose:  Thou didst will to bind the immense universe together into one Christian Kingdom.   O Christ, for the sake of Thy Romans, make this city Christian;  for to it Thou gavest the charge of leading all the rest to sacred unity.  All its members in every place are united – a very type of Thy Kingdom;  the conquered universe has bowed before it.  Oh! may its royal head bowed in turn! Send Thy Gabriel and bid him heal the blindness of the sons of Iulus, that they may know the true God.   I see a prince who is to come – an Emperor who is a servant of God.   He will not suffer Rome to remain a slave; he will close the temples and fasten them with bolts forever.’

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Martyrdom of St Lawrence - Titian
Jusepe de Ribera Spanish 1591–1652
Bernini_Martyrdom_Lawrence

Thus he prayed and with these last words, he breathed forth his soul.   Some noble Romans who had been conquered to Christ by the martyr’s admirable boldness, removed his body:  the love of the most high God had suddenly filled their hearts and dispelled their former errors.   From that day, the worship of the infamous gods grew cold;  few people went now to the temples but hastened to the altars of Christ.   Thus Lawrence, going unarmed to the battle, had wounded the enemy with his own sword.”

The burned body of Saint Lawrence was carried away by converted Roman Senators who buried him in a grotto in the Verano field, near Tivoli.   On this day, the reliquary containing his burnt head is displayed in the Vatican for veneration.   His feast spread throughout Italy and northern Africa after his martyrdom—and even Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote a beautiful sermon on St Lawrence’s life, connecting his “treasures of the Church” to martyrdom and the Holy Eucharist.   Emperor Constantine built a beautiful basilica in Lawrence’s honour.   Saint Lawrence is especially honoured in the city of Rome, where he is one of the city’s patrons.   There are several churches in Rome dedicated to him, including San Lorenzo in Panisperna, traditionally identified as the place of his execution.  The gridiron on which he was grilled is venerated there today.

... Relic of St Lawrence of Rome by Lawrence OP
Grill of St. Lawrence
High altar
San Lorenzo 2
ST LAWRENCE 5

Since the Perseid Meteor Shower typically occurs every year in mid-August, on or near Saint Lawrence’s feast day, some refer to the shower as the “Burning Tears of Saint Lawrence.”   Saint Lawrence, for his care and love of the poor, is considered their patron.   For having saved the treasures of the Church—including its documents, he is recognized as the patron saint of librarians.   For his courage in being grilled to death, he is also the patron saint of cooks and kitchen workers.

St Lawrence pray for us all!