St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr of Rome

I would be remiss if I didn’t post something on St. Lawrence, whose feast day it is today. Yes, this is a feast, not just a memorial, which means it is “kinda important” in the Church calendar.

Lawrence was one of the deacons of Rome in the 3rd Century. He was Pope Sixtus II’s right hand man, so to speak, and he suffered martyrdom on August 10, 258. He was the last of the seven Roman deacons to be executed.

At the beginning of August that year, the Emperor Valerian issued an edict commanding that all bishops, deacons and priest be executed. On August 6, Pope Sixtus was martyred after being apprehended in one of the catacombs. Two other Roman deacons died that day, Felicissimus and Agapitus. Four days later Lawrence too was executed. 

Since the 4th Century, St. Deacon Lawrence has been one of the most honored martyrs of the Roman Church. Constantine the Great erected a church over his burial place which was later enlarged by Pope Pelagius II and Pope Sixtus III. Subsequent popes have further honored Deacon Lawrence. The basilica of San Lorenzo remains standing this day, in which one can see the gridiron on which Lawrence was executed.

St. Ambrose wrote of the details of Deacon Lawrence’s death. He was asked to bring all the treasures of the Church before the Roman magistrate within four days. He frantically gave away all the material possessions of the Church to the poor, and then gathered a large group of them and brought them before the magistrate and said, “Here is the Church’s treasure, the poor.” For this, he was summarily executed on a red-hot gridiron, at least according to longstanding legend.

We also know that Deacon Lawrence had a good sense of humor. He joked a lot. The story is that while being roasted alive, he said to his executioners, “Turn me over. I am done on this side.”

Deacon Lawrence was a model for all of us deacons to imitate. He was a true servant by the witness of his life in serving the poor, and by boldly proclaiming the truth.

St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr, pray for us!

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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