St. Lawrence the Martyr Bio

“My soul clings to you my God, because I endured death by fire for your sake.”

–Lauds Antiphon for St. Lawrence

St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of Rome; he was born in 225 in Huesca, Spain and suffered martyrdom in Rome during Emperor Valerian’s persecution of the Christians.

According to several early Christian writers, among them St. Ambrose and Prudentius, Lawrence was appointed deacon of Rome by Pope Sixtus II in 257,  a position of great trust that included the care of the treasury and riches of the Church and the distribution of alms to the indigent.   Lawrence was overwhelmed with grief when Pope Sixtus was condemned to death in 258.   However, when Sixtus predicted he would follow him in three days, he was overjoyed and sold many of the Church’s possessions and donated the money to the poor.

When the Prefect of Rome heard of his action, he had Lawrence brought before him and demanded all the Church’s treasures be turned over to the Emperor.  Lawrence said he would need three days to collect them and then he presented the blind, the crippled, the poor, the orphans and other unfortunates to the Prefect and told him they were the Church’s treasures.

Furious, the Prefect prepared a red hot griddle and bound Lawrence to it; Lawrence bore the agony with unbelievable equanimity and in the midst of his torment instructed the executioner to turn him over, as he was broiled enough on one side.  From this derives his patronage of cooks, chefs, and comedians.

According to Prudentius, his death and example led to the conversion of Rome and signaled the end of paganism in the city. There is no doubt that his death inspired a great devotion in Rome, which quickly spread throughout the Church.

Prayer to St. Lawrence:

O glorious Saint Lawrence, Martyr and Deacon, who, being subjected to the most bitter torments, did not lose thy faith nor thy constancy in confessing Jesus Christ, obtain in like manner for us such an active and solid faith, that we shall never be ashamed to be true followers of Jesus Christ, and fervent Christians in word and in deed. Amen.

Died August 10, 258 AD

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