St. Laurence (or Lawrence), August 10
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
St. Laurence was chief of the seven Roman deacons of Pope Sixtus II. In 258 Emperor Valerian increased his persecutions of the Christians. One day when Pope Sixtus II was in the cemetery of St. Calistus celebrating the Holy Mysteries accompanied by some members of his clergy, he was arrested.
St. Sixtus II giving the order of deacon
to St. Laurence, by Fra Angelico
As the soldiers took the Pontiff to be put to death, Laurence followed him in anguish saying: “Where are you going, my father, without your son? Where are you going, Holy Pontiff, without your deacon? Isn’t it the custom to offer the sacrifice with an assistant? Let me prove I am worthy of the choice you made when you entrusted me with the distribution of the Blood of Our Lord.”
Sixtus replied: “I am not leaving you, my son. They are lenient on old men, not the youth. A greater combat is reserved for you. You will follow me in three days.”
Thinking that the Christians had hidden great treasures, the prefect of Rome called for Laurence, who as first deacon was the custodian of the Church’s goods. The prefect ordered Laurence to hand over all the Church’s treasures. Laurence answered that he would do so but first he needed to assemble them. So he went out and gathered all the poor and sick people of Rome, then returned and showed them to the prefect, telling him that these were the sole and greatest treasure of the Church. The poor people were the gold, the virgins and widows were the pearls and other precious stones. Furious, the prefect condemned Laurence to die a slow and cruel death.
The saint was undressed and laid on a grill with burning coals beneath it. Witnesses of the scene saw a radiant joy on the martyr’s face. After a certain time had passed, he addressed his torturers saying: “Turn me around, because this side is already well cooked.” They turned him, and after a time he said: “It is done and ready to eat.” Then turning his eyes to Heaven he prayed to God for the conversion of Rome and expired. His body was carried away by converted Roman Senators who buried him in a grotto in the Verano field, near Tivoli.