St Lawrence, Deacon – 10 August
Third-century archdeacon of Rome, distributor of alms, and “keeper of the treasures of the church” in a time when Christianity was outlawed. On 6 August 258, by decree of Emperor Valerian, Pope Saint Sixtus II and six deacons were beheaded, leaving Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome.
While in prison awaiting execution Sixtus reassured Lawrence that he was not being left behind; they would be reunited in four days. Lawrence saw this time as an opportunity to disperse the material wealth of the church before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it. On 10 August Lawrence was commanded to appear for his execution, and to bring along the treasure with which he had been entrusted by the pope. When he arrived, the archdeacon was accompanied by a multitude of Rome‘s crippled, blind, sick, and indigent. He announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. Martyr.
Lawrence’s care for the poor, the ill, and the neglected have led to his patronage of them. His work to save the material wealth of the Church, including its documents, brought librarians and those in related fields to see him as a patron, and to ask for his intercession. And his incredible strength and courage when being grilled to death led to his patronage of cooks and those who work in or supply things to the kitchen. The meteor shower that follows the passage of the Swift-Tuttle comet was known in the middle ages as the “burning tears of Saint Lawrence” because they appear at the same time as Lawrence’s feast.
He was born at Huesca, Spain and cooked to death on a gridiron on 10 August, 258 in Rome, Italy. Tradition says that the ashes of his burned body were dispersed by the winds, and appear at different places around the world on is feast day.