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For a large part of the liturgical year, we devote ourselves to listening to the mystery of Christ in all its aspects unfolded as we seek God's truth and understanding.
Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, d. c. 258
Lawrence was appointed a deacon under Pope Saint Sixtus II. It was Lawrence’s job to handle the treasury, distribute alms to the poor, and take care of the sick, of which more than 1,000 were under the care of the Church at this time.
In 257, Emperor Valerian issued an edict against all Christians. A year later, Pope Sixtus was arrested and led off to be executed. It is written that Lawrence followed the Pope, weeping, and asked him, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” The pope replied, “I do not leave you my son. You shall soon follow me.” Lawrence was overjoyed to think that God would soon call him.
The deacon set out to find all of the poor, the widows, the orphans, and all others whom the Church had been caring for. He distributed to them all of the money which he had and even sold the chalices and other sacred vessels of the Church in order to increase the amount which he could give to the unfortunates.
The prefect of Rome, hearing of Lawrence’s charities and assuming even greater wealth, sent for Lawrence and demanded that the treasures of the Church be handed over to him. Lawrence promised that he would hand over these treasures, but needed time to assemble and inventory them. He was granted three days.
On the third day, Lawrence had assembled hundreds of poor, the old, the lame, the blind, lepers, widows and orphans. Then, going to the prefect, he presented these as the treasures of the Church. The prefect failed to see the humor in this, and sentenced Lawrence to death. Knowing that Lawrence had no fear of death, he ordered a large grill to be constructed and placed over hot coals so that Lawrence would die a slow and painful death.
When Lawrence had been on the grill for some time, apparently feeling no pain, he is said to have told his persecutors, “You can turn me over now; I’m done on this side.” After his death, his great faith, witnessed by many Roman officials, led to the immediate conversion of several Roman senators who took up his body and buried it on the Via Tiburtina. There, a church was later built in his honor.
Saint Lawrence is the patron of Rome, of the poor, and, perhaps with a hint of his own humor, cooks. We honor Lawrence on August 10 by a feast.
Lawrence's message today: We sometimes have a tendency to take ourselves too seriously, and forget that God has the ultimate sense of humor. We too are blessed with this gift, and should manage the sufferings which we experience with the best possible grace.