Patron of the Poor and of Cooks
In 257, when St. Sixtus became Pope, he ordained St. Lawrence deacon and, though the latter was still young, appointed him the first of the seven deacons who served in the Church of Rome. To this office was annexed the care of the treasury of the Church and the distribution of its revenues among the poor. In that same year, the Emperor Valerian published his edoct of persecution and commended all Bishops, Priests and Deacons to be put to death immediately.
St. Sixtus was arrested twelve months later. As the holy man was led to execution, st. Lawrence followed him in tears. Sixtus at the same time ordered him to distribute the treasures of the Church among the poor. St. Lawrence did as he was commended, selling even the sacred vessels to increase the sum.
At that time the Church of Rome, besides providing for its ministers, maintained fifteen hundred poor people and even sent alms to distant countries. The Prefect of Rome commanded St. Lawrence to surrender the treasures of the Church, and the saint promised to show them to him. On the third day, instead of gold and silver he exhibited the poor whom he had gathered together.
The enraged Prefect commanded that Lawrence should be slowly roasted on a gridiron. The order was mercilessly executed but the Martyr, strengthened by Divine grace, endured his suffering with heroic fortitude and even found strength to jest at the expense of his torments and his persecutor.
To his last breath the holy deacon prayed for the conversion of the city of Rome, that the faith of Christ might thence spread throughout the world. Several senators, who had witnessed his execution, were converted to Christianity and gave decent burial to his body. His martyrdom occurred in the year 258.
PRAYER: God, by his ardent love for You St. Lawrence exhibited faithful service and attained a glorious martyrdom. Help us to love what he loved and to practice what he taught. Amen.