Thursday, August 10, 2006
Feast of St. Lawrence

Feast (1969 Calendar): August 10
Double of the II Class (1955 Calendar): August 10

Just a few days ago we recalled the life of Pope St. Sixtus II, who lost his life for Christ. Just three days later, as Pope St. Sixtus II foretold, St. Lawrence suffered martyrdom for the faith. 

St. Lawrence was born in Huesca, Spain in the third century. He was an archdeacon of Rome whose job was to care for the goods of the Church and distribute alms. On August 6, 258, Pope St. Sixtus II and six deacons were martyred. This left St. Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome. Just before then, Pope St. Sixtus II foretold St. Lawrence that he would join him in martyrdom for the faith in four days because St. Lawrence wished to die with the Pope.

St. Lawrence said: "Father, where are you going without your son? Where are you hastening, O priest, without your deacon? Never before did you offer the holy Sacrifice without assistants. In what way have I displeased you? In what way have you found me unfaithful in my office? Oh, try me again and prove to yourself whether you have chosen an unworthy minister for the service of the Church. So far you have been trusting me with distributing the Blood of the Lord." To this Pope Sixtus II replied, "I am not forsaking you, my son; a severer trial is awaiting you for your faith in Christ. The Lord is considerate toward me because I am a weak old man. But for you, a most glorious triumph is in store. Cease to weep, for already after three days you will follow me"

St. Lawrence, under the command of the pope, began to give all of the Church’s goods to the poor. While he was doing this task, a blind man named Crescentius asked him to heal his blindness by laying hands on him. St. Lawrence made the Sign of the Cross over him and his vision was restored.

Lawrence was soon arrested and in prison still healed man blind men. The guard, named Hippolytus, was so impressed by the Faith that he accept it and also died as a martyr.

On August 10, 258, Lawrence was told to bring along the treasure entrusted by the pope to his execution. After being given two days' time to collect the goods, St. Lawrence arrived with a multitude of Rome’s crippled, blind, and sick. St. Lawrence announced to the judge: "Here are the treasures of the Church!" Before he was arrested, though, he had dispersed the material wealth of the Church including many documents, which saved years of early Church history.

He was tortured, scourged, and scorched with glowing plates. In the midst of it, he prayed: "Lord Jesus Christ, God from God, have mercy on Your servant!" A solider named Romanus exclaimed: "I see before you an incomparably beautiful youth. Hasten and baptize me." Romanus had observed during this torture how an angel dried the wounds of Lawrence with a linen cloth.

As he was taken back to the judge he said, "My God I honor and Him alone I serve. Therefore I do not fear your torments; this night shall become as brightest day and as light without any darkness."

St. Lawrence was grilled to death on August 10, 258. As he died, he prayed for the conversion of Rome so that from it the Faith of Christ would spread. Following his death, idolatry began to decline throughout Rome. He also said, "Now you may turn me over, my body is roasted enough on this side." Then he said, "At last I am finished; you may now take from me and eat." He turned to God and exclaimed: "I thank You, O Lord, that I am permitted to enter Your portals." His body was buried in the cemetery of Saint Cyriaca on the road to Tivoli. The gridiron that is believed to have been his deathbed is in San Lorenzo in Lucina.

Source for information: The Church's Year of Grace by Pius Parsch.

Feast of St. Lawrence as a Holy Day of Obligation

The Feast of St. Lawrence was of such importance it was a Holy Day of Obligation for a long time. It remained a holy day in the modern-day United States until 1777 and in Ireland until 1778. The Vigil preceding the Feast of St. Lawrence was as a day of fasting in times past as well.

With the robe of joyfulness, alleluia,
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 alleluia.

Hymn from the Mass of Saint Laurence, Old Sarum Rite Missal, 1998, Saint Hilarion Press


Quench in us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the flame of vice, even as Thou dist enable blessed Lawrence to overcome his fire of sufferings. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

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