Father Lawrence Lew, OP via Flickr, licensed cc
Today is the feast of St. Lawrence of Rome.
Lawrence was born in Spain in the year 258. He came to Rome to serve under Pope Saint Sixtus II as one of the seven deacons of Rome. During the Valerian persecution, Pope Sixtus was martyred, but before he died he told Lawrence, "My son, I am not leaving you. In a few days you will follow me." Lawrence was overwhelmed with grief.
The prefect, Cornelius Saecularis, mocked the Christian faith by saying, "I understand that according to your teaching, you must render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Your God didn't bring any money into the world with him. All he brought was words, so give us the money and you can keep the words."
Lawrence told the prefect that he needed three days to get the riches together, and in that time he sold everything and gave it to the poor. In three days time he presented thousands of the poor and weak to the prefect as the "riches of the church."
In a rage, the vindictive prefect ordered Lawrence to be killed slowly. He was roasted on a huge gridiron. It is said that Lawrence bore this torment bravely and even with a sense of humor. He told one of the executioners to turn him over, because he was done on one side.
And as usually happens with martyrs, Lawrence's death inspired many to convert to Christianity. Both Lawrence and Sixtus are mentioned in the canon of the mass.
There are a couple of things I love about the story of St. Lawrence. He felt great love and then great grief for his noble pope. He endeavored to do his job well and to serve the people to the best of his ability, even if it meant dying for them - something that I am afraid many of our clergy to day may have to face considering the times. I also admire his strong nonviolent defiance of an unjust tax - again, it seems to be very timely.
Lawrence in the patron of deacons, schoolboys, students, brewers, confectioners, cooks, cutlers, glaziers and launderers.
And on a personal note- one of my favorite uncles, from Mr. Pete's side of the family, was Uncle Lawrence. Please remember him in your prayers on the feast of his patron.