A Garner of Saints – Saint Laurence

detail of a painting of Saint Lawrence of Rome; early 16th century by Creator:Francesco Rizzo da Santacroce; Museum of John Paul II Collection, Warsaw, Poland; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Born in Spain and taken to Rome together with Saint Vincent by Saint Sixtus who had been governor of Spain. When Sixtus became pope he created Laurence his deacon to distribute alms and tend the poor. Now this was the time of the Emperor Philip, the first who was a Christian. Against him rose up his general Decius, excited by ambition, and he slew his master and marched on Rome. Philip’s son, in terror, gave all his treasures to Sixtus and Laurence, in order that if he were killed they might distribute them to the poor. Meanwhile, the senate received Decius as emperor, and to prove his zeal he at once began to persecute the Christians. Thousands of martyrs suffered, among them being Philip’s son. Upon this Decius heard of the treasure and at once sent for Sixtus. And the holy pope was taken and thrown into prison, Laurence following him being desirous of sharing his fate. But Sixtus gave him the kiss of peace, assuring him that he would be called upon to undergo greater sufferings, and so Laurence departed. And he went through every part of Rome to seek the poor Christians in their hiding places to help them in their need. He first went to Mont Coelius where there was a holy widow named Cyriaca, who had gathered together many of the faithful into her house. Saint Laurence entered this house at night, and in order to show his respect for the ecclesiastics gathered there, he washed the feet of all. After this he laid his hands on the head of the widow and making the sign of the cross he completely .cured her of severe pains in the head from which she had long suffered. When he had distributed alms to every one according to his estate, the holy deacon departed to the house of one Narcissus, where he performed similar acts of mercy and restored the sight of a man named Crescentius by making the sign of the cross. Descending into the Nepotian catacomb, where about sixty-three Christians were assembled, he gave them the kiss of peace and distributed alms, washing their feet. And meeting Saint Justin there he fell at his feet and kissed them. The following day he met- Sixtus being led to his martyrdom, and cried out that he had done all that which the pope had commanded and had distributed to the poor the treasures entrusted to him. When the soldiers heard of the treasure they seized Laurence and brought him before the tribune, who sent him to the emperor. And when Laurence refused to answer questions conceming the treasure, the emperor delivered him to Hippolytus, a Roman knight, instructing him to find out this secret. The knight took Laurence to his own house and shut him up in prison with many others. Here he restored the sight of a man named I.ucillus,who had been long in prison there,who had become blind with much weeping, and who was healed on receiving the sacrament of baptism. The fame of this miracle being noised abroad, numbers of the blind resorted to the prison and Laurence healed them all, making the sign of the cross. Hippolytus being astonished at these wonders came to press the saint to disclose the whereabouts of his treasures but Laurence promised him the treasures of Heaven if he would believe, so that Hippolytus was converted and received baptism with all his family. Summoned once more before the emperor, Laurence was accorded three days in which to produce his treasures. He departed, and assembling all the blind, halt and other poor he brought them before the emperor, saying, “Sire, here are the treasures of the church, which increase and never diminish and which every one can possess.” The emperor, in a fury caused him to be stripped and torn with scorpions, and displaying the instruments of torture, menaced him with horrible torments if he would not adore the gods. As Laurence remained steadfast he was taken to the palace on the Palatine mount and there beaten with rods, while his sides were burned with hot irons. After this the emperor caused him to be scourged with whips weighted with lead and then racked, but as he prayed an angel appeared who wiped the sweat from his forehead and the blood from his wounds. A soldier named Romanus, who saw this vision, was converted, and bringing water received baptism from Laurence. The saint was then thrown into prison, but that same night he was once again brought before the emperor and placed on a gridiron. But he cried out that the fires were a refreshment to him, and after a while he turned joyfully to Decius and said, this side is sufiiciently roasted, cause me to be tumed over, tyrant, and come and eat, and so saying he perished. But Decius went away in confusion, leaving the body on the fire. Hippolytus came and having embalmed the body he buried it.

One night, as a hermit was meditating in his hut, he heard a noise of trampling, and on his demanding the cause, a voice replied that they were demons going to seize the soul of the Emperor Henry who was at the point of death. Then the hermit conjured the demon to appear on his return and tell him the result. After some while there came a knocking, and when the hermit opened the window the demon was there and related how when the demons came to make their claim, the emperor’s good angel appeared to save him, but when Michael weighed his good deeds against his bad ones, the latter proved much heavier in the scales. When the victory of the demons appeared certain, St Laurence appeared on the scene, and throwing a golden chalice into the scale containing the good deeds, caused that to be the heavier. The vanquished demons fled away, but broke off one of the handles of the chalice. The next morning the hermit rose up and hastened to the city, where he learned that the emperor had recently expired, while the gold chalice which he had presented to the church of Saint Laurence had lost one of its handles. Hippolytus, who had buried Saint Laurence, was afterwards brought before Decius and suffered martyrdom, being torn to pieces by wild horses. Saint Laurence, 10 August; Saint Hippolytus, 13 August.

Attributes

  • Gridiron; he wears the deacon’s dress.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Laurence”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 20 April 2017. Web. 28 April 2017. <>