Miniature Lives of the Saints – Saint Laurence, Martyr

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

Saint Laurence was the chief among the seven deacons of the Roman Church. In the exercise of his office he ministered to the poor of Christ, and his charity to them proved the occasion of his martyrdom. In the year 258 Pope Sixtus was led out to die, and Saint Laurence stood by, weeping that he could not share his fate. “I was your minister,” he said, “when you consecrated the Blood of our Lord; why do you leave me behind now that you are about to shed your own?” The holy Pope comforted him with the words, “Do not weep, my son; in three days you will follow me.” This prophecy came true. The prefect of the city knew the rich offerings which the Christians put into the hands of the clergy, and he demanded the treasures of the Roman Church from Laurence, their guardian. The Saint promised at the end of three days to show him riches exceeding all the wealth of the empire, and set about collecting the poor, the infirm, and the religious who lived by the alms of the faithful. He then bade the prefect, “see the treasures of the Church.” Christ, whom Laurence had served in His poor, gave him strength in the conflict which ensued. Roasted over a slow fire, he made sport of his pains. “I am done enough,” he said; “eat, if you will.” At length Christ, the Father of the poor, received him into eternal habitations.

Our Lord appears before us in the persons of the poor. Charity to them is a great sign of predestination. It is almost impossible, the holy Fathers assure us, for any one who is charitable to the poor for Christ’s sake to perish.

But where, sayest thou, can I find Christ on earth? Where can I find Him, that I may give to Him? Give alms on earth, and thou hast fed Christ in heaven. — Saint Augustine

God showed by the glory which shone around Saint Laurence the value He set upon his love for the poor. Saint Leo tells us that Rome was not less honoured by the death of Laurence than Jerusalem by that of Stephen; and we know from Saint Augustine how many miracles were wrought at his tomb. A brother of Saint Ambrose was saved from shipwreck in consequence ofa vow which he made to Saint Laurence. Prayers innumerable were granted at his tomb; and he continued from his throne in heaven his charity to those in need, granting them, as Saint Augustine says, “the smaller graces which they sought, and leading them to the desire of better gifts.”

For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in. – Matthew 25:35

MLA Citation

  • Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Saint Laurence, Martyr”. Miniature Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 8 March 2015. Web. 3 August 2020. <>