Feast of St. Laurence, Deacon and Martyr – August 10th

St. Laurence (or Lawrence) was a young and heroic martyr, born 31 December AD 225 in modern day Spain. He became a disciple of the future Pope Sixtus II, who was of Greek origin, and one of the most highly esteemed teachers of his time. Sixtus became Pope in 257 AD and ordained Laurence as a deacon, the first among seven who served in the patriarchal church.  Laurence received the title “Archdeacon of Rome,” a position that included overseeing the Church’s treasury and riches, including distribution of alms to the poor and needy. To Laurence, the real treasures of the Church were the indigent, the disabled, the blind and the suffering  to whom he presented alms.

Pope Sixtus so respected the young deacon that he was given the care of the altar, and served at the side of the Pope when Holy Communion was offered. During the persecution of Roman Emperor Valerian, Sixtus II and four of his deacons martyred. Laurence greatly desired to die with his spiritual father and reportedly asked, “Father, where are you going without your son? Where are you hastening, O priest, without your deacon?

Pope Sixtus II answered with this prophecy: “I am not forsaking you, my son; a severer trial is awaiting you for your faith in Christ.” Indeed, on 10 August AD 258, Laurence was tortured, scourged, and burned upon a fiery gridiron. In excruciating pain, he prayed these simple words, “Lord Jesus Christ, God from God, have mercy on Your servant.”

 

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