Earlier this week we celebrated the feast of Pope St. Sixtus II who was martyred in 258 AD, while he celebrated the Mass in the catacombs during the reign of Roman emperor Valerian. After his death, the highest ranking leader of the Church was Lawrence, the archdeacon. A few days later, Lawrence would become the target of the emperor’s attempt to wipe out Christianity.
Enjoy and be challenged by the story that follows. This is taken from Franciscan Media‘s website:
A well-known legend has persisted from earliest times. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. When Lawrence knew he would be arrested like the pope, he sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels of the altar to increase the sum. When the prefect of Rome heard of this, he imagined that the Christians must have considerable treasure. He sent for Lawrence and said, “You Christians say we are cruel to you, but that is not what I have in mind. I am told that your priests offer in gold, that the sacred blood is received in silver cups, that you have golden candlesticks at your evening services. Now, your doctrine says you must render to Caesar what is his. Bring these treasures—the emperor needs them to maintain his forces. God does not cause money to be counted: He brought none of it into the world with him—only words. Give me the money, therefore, and be rich in words.”
Lawrence replied that the Church was indeed rich. “I will show you a valuable part. But give me time to set everything in order and make an inventory.” After three days he gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned, and widowed persons and put them in rows. When the prefect arrived, Lawrence simply said, “These are the treasure of the Church.”
The prefect was so angry he told Lawrence that he would indeed have his wish to die—but it would be by inches. He had a great gridiron prepared with coals beneath it, and had Lawrence’s body placed on it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the legend concludes, he made his famous cheerful remark, “It is well done. Turn me over!”
Among other things, St. Lawrence is patron of chefs, cooks and comedians. In these troubling times it is encouraging to know that we have been preceded by people who took their faith very seriously and stood up to the pressures of society, rulers and governments—and did so even with humor!
St. Lawrence pray for us!