Monday, August 10, 2015

Saint Lawrence

St Lawrence helping the poor by Fra Angelico
Saint Lawrence was one of seven deacons in Rome who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out, Pope St. Sixtus was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping, "Father, where are you going without your deacon?" he said. "I am not leaving you, my son," answered the Pope. "in three days you will follow me." Full of joy, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand and even sold expensive vessels, chalices and candlesticks to have more to give away.
The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church's treasure to him. The Saint said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church and lined them all up. When he showed them to the Prefect, he said: "This is the Church's treasure!" 

St Lawrence's martyrdom by Valentin de Boulogne
In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The Saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but Lawrence was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, he even joked, "Turn me over," he said to the judge. "I'm done on this side!" And just before he died, he said, "It's cooked enough now." Then he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic faith might spread all over the world. After that, he went to receive the martyr's reward.
St Lawrence is one of thousands of martyrs who were mercilessly killed by the ruthless Emperors in the first 300 years of Christianity. Others were crucified, sent to the lions, beheaded, burned, tied to a tree and arrows shot at them, others were skinned or had parts of their body taken out or cut off. With St Stephen he is the patron saint of deacons.

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