This famous martyr of Rome lived in the third century. He was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy. When a persecution broke out, Pope St. Sixtus II was condemned to death. As he was led to execution, Lawrence followed him weeping. "Father, where are you going without your deacon?" "I am not leaving you, my son," answered the pope. "In three days you will follow me." Full of joy, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand. He even sold expensive church vessels to have more to give away.
The prefect of Rome, a greedy man, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. He ordered Lawrence to bring the Church's treasure to him. The saint said he would, in three days. Then he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. He showed them to the prefect and said: "This is the Church's treasure." The prefect was furious. In his anger he condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted him. God gave him so much strength and joy that Lawrence is said to have joked. "Turn me over," he said to the judge. Before he died, he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus. He prayed that the Catholic faith would spread all over the world.
Lawrence died on August 10, 158. His feast spread throughout Italy and northern Africa. Emperor Constantine built a beautiful basilica in Lawrence's honor. St. Lawrence is among the saints mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.
"Let us understand, then, how a Christian must follow Christ even though he does not shed his blood for him, and his faith is not called upon to undergo the great test of the martyr's sufferings."-St. Augustine