Saint Lawrence of Rome (225-258), arch-deacon, distributor of alms, and “Keeper of the Treasures of the Church” during a time when Christianity was outlawed. Saint Lawrence was martyred for his faith after refusing to give the Roman authorities the material wealth of the Church. Instead, when they demanded it, Saint Lawrence produced the crippled, blind, sick, and indigent of Rome, proclaiming them the “true treasures of the Church.”
Little is known about the life of Saint Lawrence, with the exception that he was born in Spain and later moved to Rome, earning the respect of the Pope and elevated to the position of Arch-Deacon. The inspiration of Saint Lawrence comes in the final days of his life, and the courageous acts of his death.
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.”
“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.” With the Pontiff’s execution, Lawrence was the highest ranking church authority left in Rome.
Saint Lawrence was brought before Cornelius Secularis, prefect of Rome under the Emperor Valerian, who, according to Dom Prosper Guéranger in his Liturgical Year: "aimed at ruining the Christians by prohibiting their assemblies, putting their chief men to death, and confiscating their property." Saint Lawrence asked for a short delay, so he could gather these riches for the prefect, and true to the promise of Pope Sixtus, returned three days after the pontiff’s death to hand them over. However, heeding Pope Sixtus II’s final words, Lawrence used his three days to distribute the material wealth of the Church to the poor, before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it.
“Behold, these choice pearls, these sparkling gems that adorn the temple, these sacred virgins, I mean, and these widows who refuse second marriage.... Behold then, all our riches." In response to his boldness, Cornelius ordered the scourging and torture of Saint Lawrence upon the rack.
From the Liturgical Year:
"...Laurence was taken down from the rack about midday. In his prison, however, he took no rest, but wounded and bleeding as he was, he baptized the converts won to Christ by the sight of his courageous suffering. He confirmed their faith, and fired their souls with a martyr's intrepidity. When the evening hour summoned Rome to its pleasures, the prefect recalled the executioners to their work, for a few hours' rest had sufficiently restored their energy to enable them to satisfy his cruelty."
Surrounded by this ill-favored company, the prefect thus addressed the valiant deacon: 'Sacrifice to the gods, or else the whole night long shall be witness of your torments.' 'My night has no darkness,' answered Laurence, 'and all things are full of light to me.' They struck him on the mouth with stone, but he smiled and said, 'I give Thee thanks, O Christ.'
Then an iron bed or gridiron with three bars was brought in and the saint was stripped of his garments and extended upon it while burning coals were placed beneath it. As they were holding him down with iron fork, Laurence said 'I offer myself as a sacrifice to God for an odor of sweetness.' The executioners continually stirred up the fire and brought fresh coals, while they still held him down with their forks. Then the saint said: 'Learn, unhappy man, how great is the power of my God; for your burning coals give me refreshment, but they will be your eternal punishment. I call Thee, O Lord, to witness: when I was accused, I did not deny Thee; when I was questioned, I confessed Thee, O Christ; on the red-hot coals I gave Thee thanks.' And with his countenance radiant with heavenly beauty, he continued: 'Yea, I give Thee thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ, for that Thou hast deigned to strengthen me.' He then raised his eyes to his judge, and said: 'See, this side is well roasted; turn me on the other and eat.' Then, continuing his canticle of praise to God [he said]: 'I give Thee thanks, O Lord, that I have merited to enter into Thy dwelling place.'
As he was on the point of death, he remembered the Church. The thought of the eternal Rome gave him fresh strength, and he breathed forth this ecstatic prayer: 'O Christ, only God, O Splendor, O Power of the Father, O Maker of heaven and earth and builder of this city's walls! Thou has placed Rome's scepter high over all; Thou hast willed to subject the world to it, in order to unite under one law the nations which differ in manners, customs, language, genius, and sacrifice. Behold the whole human race has submitted to its empire, and all discord and dissensions disappear in its unity. Remember thy purpose: Thou didst will to bind the immense universe together into one Christian Kingdom. O Christ, for the sake of Thy Romans, make this city Christian; for to it Thou gavest the charge of leading all the rest to sacred unity. All its members in every place are united - a very type of Thy Kingdom; the conquered universe has bowed before it. Oh! may its royal head bowed in turn! Send Thy Gabriel and bid him heal the blindness of the sons of Iulus, that they may know the true God. I see a prince who is to come - an Emperor who is a servant of God. He will not suffer Rome to remain a slave; he will close the temples and fasten them with bolts forever.'
Thus he prayed, and with these last words, he breathed forth his soul. Some noble Romans who had been conquered to Christ by the martyr's admirable boldness, removed his body: the love of the most high God had suddenly filled their hearts and dispelled their former errors. From that day, the worship of the infamous gods grew cold; few people went now to the temples, but hastened to the altars of Christ. Thus Laurence, going unarmed to the battle, had wounded the enemy with his own sword."
beautiful sermon on the life of Saint Lawrence, connecting his “treasures of the Church” to martyrdom and the Holy Eucharist. Emperor Constantine built a beautiful basilica in Lawrence's honor. Saint Lawrence is especially honored in the city of Rome, where he is one of the city's patrons. There are several churches in Rome dedicated to him, including San Lorenzo in Panisperna, traditionally identified as the place of his execution. The gridiron on which he was grilled is venerated there today.
From the Mass of Saint Laurence, Old Sarum Rite Missal, 1998:
With the robe of joyfulness, alleluya,
Our Lord hath this day clothed His soldier, Laurence.
May Thy faithful’s joyous assemblage clap their hands
More cheerfully than they have heretofore.
Today the noble martyr offered pleasing sacrifice to God,
Today he, being grievously tested,
Endured unto the end the torment of his fire;
And shrank not from offering his limbs to punishments most grievous.
Before the ruler he is summoned,
And settlement is made upon the Church’s hidden holdings.
But he by words enticing is unmoved, and is unshaken
By the torments of the ruler’s avarice.
Valerian is laughed to scorn,
And the Levite’s liberal hand,
When he is asked for payments,
Giveth to the gathered poor.
For he was their minister of charity,
Giving them abundance from his means.
Therefore the prefect is enraged,
And a glowing bed made ready.
The torment-bearing instrument,
The gridiron of his suffering,
Roasteth his very viscera,
But he laugheth it to scorn.
The martyr sweateth in his agony,
In hopes of crown and recompense
Which is allotted those with faith,
Who struggle for the sake of Christ.
The court of heaven rejoiceth
For his warfare-waging,
For he hath prevailed this day
Against the lackeys of wickedness.
That we, then, may attain the gift of life,
By this our patron, be glad, O our choir,
Singing in the church upon his feast-day
A joyful alleluya.
You called Saint Lawrence to serve you by love
and crowned his life with glorious martyrdom.
Help us to be like him in loving you and doing
your work. Grant this through our Lord Jesus
Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with
You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and
Year 2: Day 222 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Social Justice; Charity; Eyes that see all the children of God
Requested Intentions: Recovery and health of a mother (J); For a family to grow closer to the Church, salvation for all children (D); Successful employment (L); Successful employment (S); Renewal of faith life (A); Support for an intended marriage, health for friend and aunt (J); Mental health assistance for son (G); Freedom from illness (S); Successful employment (C); Financial assistance and employment (B); For a family’s intentions (T); Successful examination results (B); Healing of a friend with cancer, for all those who help others (B); Healing and love (L); Grace and healing (V); Healing of a heart, consecration of a marriage (M); Health of a family, intentions of apostolate (H); For repentance (J); For a family in trouble (R); Healing, successful relationships for son, financial success (J); Success of a company (L); For a religious society (J); Healing of a husband, strength as a faithful caregiver (D); Healing of a son (T); Financial security, Healing and guidance (M); Healing of a heart and relationship (V); Employment for daughter (J); For a marriage that glorifies the Lord (K); Resolution of family situation, parents’ health (A); Positive results (C); For a son’s employment, faith, and relationships (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."