LAWRENCE, DEACON AND MARTYR
Saint Lawrence, one of the seven deacons of Rome, suffered martyrdom during Emperor Valerian’s persecution of the Christians. His death brings us back to the early days of the Church, when shedding of blood for one’s faith was esteemed as a great honor and pledge of eternal life. Lawrence was a deacon of Pope Sixtus II and was overwhelmed with grief when Sixtus was condemned to death in the year 258.
As deacon, Lawrence had charge over the possessions of the church. The Prefect of Rome commanded Lawrence to bring in the treasures of the church to be handed over to the Emperor. Lawrence said he would need three days to collect them; then he hastened through the city and assembled the poor, the crippled, the widows, the orphans and other unfortunates. He then presented them to the Prefect, calling them the treasures of the Church.
Furious, the Prefect prepared a red-hot griddle and bound Lawrence to it. As they were holding him down with iron forks, Lawrence said: “I offer myself up as a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness.” With a humor that only the saints possess, he raised his eyes to the judge and said, “See, this side is well roasted; turn me on the other and eat.” According to Prudentius, an early Christian writer, Lawrence’s death and example led to the conversion of Rome, signaling the end of paganism in the city and inspiring a great devotion in Rome.
St. Lawrence’s name is in the Canon of the Mass, and his Feast Day is celebrated on August 10.