The beautiful heart of St. Lawrence can be found in the love and care he gave to the poor and needy, the love he had for Rome – the centre of Christianity and the seat of the Vicar of Christ; and his faithfulness to the church.
St. Lawrence of Rome. Image Public Domain
St. Lawrence of Rome was martyred in the third century during the persecutions of Emperor Valerian. He was one of the seven deacons in charge of helping the poor and carried the title of archdeacon – a position of great trust that included the care of the treasury and riches of the church and the distribution of alms among the poor. Lawrence was ‘keeper of the church’s treasures’.
During the persecution of Valerian, Pope St. Sixtus II and six deacons were condemned to death. This would leave Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome, but Lawrence too would follow in steps of martyrdom four days later.
Statue of St. Lawrence on the colonnade of St. Peters Rome
Sculptor – Lazzaro Morelli
The Prefect of Rome had ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him. Lawrence said he would do this within three days. He worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. He then went through the city of Rome and gathered a multitude of the poor, sick, blind, crippled and suffering – these he presented to the Prefect saying “These are the true treasures of the Church!”
It was in great anger that the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. On the 10th of August, the last of the seven deacons of Rome, suffered a martyr’s death. St. Lawrence was tied to a gridiron placed over a low fire that roasted his flesh slowly.
After the saint had suffered the pain for a long time, he even joked with his torturers, “assum est…versa et manduca” – “This side is done, turn and eat”. From this derives his patronage of cooks and chefs, and also of comedians.
Saint Lawrence’s feast day is August 10th.
Patron saint of many … several are listed as follows –
• against fire
• laundry workers
• poor people
• stained glass workers
• vine growers
• wine makers
• 36 cities and dioceses, including Rome.
More information can be found on St. Lawrence on the Vatican website.
Note: The image of St. Lawrence is a photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. This photographic reproduction is also in the public domain. All other images are copyright of Precious Treasures.