August 9, 2017

Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

August 10th, is the Feast of Saint Lawrence. As one of the seven deacons of Rome under Pope Sixtus II, he was in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. In 258, it was decreed that all Christian clergy, from highest to lowest, were to be put to death. Consequently, not only the pope, but all seven deacons were martyred. Pope Sixtus II was one of the first victims of the persecution.

St. Lawrence was killed last. Ordered by the emperor to turn over all the treasure the Church possessed, he gave to Rome’s most destitute all the money and goods the Church had. He then brought the people to the appointed place. To the prefect’s horror, St. Lawrence declared, “These are the treasures of the Church.”

The prefect was so enraged that he ordered him slowly roasted to death over a gridiron. St. Lawrence maintained both his courage and his humor. It is said that after suffering for some time he quipped to his executioners, “Turn me over. I’m done on this side.” Lawrence rejoiced in his most terrible martyrdom and died praying for the conversion of Rome in the hopes that the Faith would flourish.

The story of this Christian martyr is told in the Roman Breviary by the antiphons and responsories. Already in Constantine's time there was erected over his grave a church that belonged to the seven major basilicas of Rome, Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls. He is the patron saint of the city of Rome, the poor, deacons and seminarians, among others. O God, giver of that ardor of love for you by which St. Lawrence was faithful in service and glorious in martyrdom, grant that we may love as he loved, even unto death, in imitation of Our Lord Jesus. Amen.

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