Spirituality for Today – August 2016 – Volume 21, Issue 1

Saint of the Month
St. Laurence - August 10

A painting of Saint LaurenceSaint Laurence

Although little is known about the life of Laurence, legends about him have fired the imaginations of Christians for centuries. Laurence was probably born in Aragon in the first half of the third century.

Most bible scholars believe Laurence was educated by Xystus, the man who became Pope Sixtus II in the year 257. One of Sixtus's first acts as pope was to ordain his young protégé, Laurence, a deacon. Soon after, Sixtus appointed Laurence as one of the seven deacons to serve the Church in Rome. As deacon, Laurence was greatly concerned for the poor.

Then Roman Emperor valerian issued a decree against the Christian church. Hoping to stop the spread of Christianity, Valerian ordered all bishops, priests and deacons to be put to death.

According to one popular legend, when Sixtus was led to his execution in 258, Laurence was grief-stricken and cried out, "Father, where are you going without your son? Wither are you going, o holy priest, without your deacon?" But Sixtus answered, "I do not leave you, my son, but a greater trial and a more glorious victory are reserve for you… You will follow me in four days."

Laurence was not afraid, but instead overjoyed. And rather than hide, Laurence quickly began distributing the Church's wealth to the needy and sick, as Sixtus had instructed. When a roman prefect ordered Laurence to turn over all the Church's riches, Laurence pointed to a group of poor and sick people and said that they were the Church's true wealth. Furious at Laurence's response, the prefect had the ever-faithful deacon burned to death.

You called St. Laurence to serve you by love
and crowned his life with glorious martyrdom,
Help us to be like him in loving you
and doing your work.
Grant this through Our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son, who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

For Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary People.