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Saint Lawrence


No Martyr of the Church hath a name more famous than Lawrence, in whose praise the most illustrious of the Latin Fathers have written, and in whose triumph the universal Church hath ever delighted to join. Spain hath claimed him as her son; but nothing of his early life is known except that he was one of the seven Deacons of the Church in Rome during the popedom of Saint Sixtus II. These Levites bore an important office, namely, to care for the sacred vessels and church-property; to succor, with the alms entrusted to them, all the Christian poor and needy, of whom there were very many; and to assist the Pope in the administration of the Sacraments, and in offering the holy Sacrifice. In 257 the Emperor Valerian published an edict which decreed that all Christian leaders, the clergy in particular, should be put to death, so that the flock might be scattered through the destruction of its shepherds. In the following year, on August 6th, holy Sixtus was martyred, and four days thereafter the Archdeacon Lawrence followed his spiritual father in martyrdom. And the names of them both have had, for centuries, grateful mention in the Gregorian Canon. The poet Prudentius, Bishop Saint Ambrose, Pope Saint Damasus, and other early writers, who made use of the oral traditions of their days, wrote of the holy Archdeacon in such wise as to give the form to his liturgical Office which it still hath. According to Prudentius, the blessed Martyr in his death agony offered the sacrifice of himself to God in impetration for the triumph of Christianity in pagan Rome. And when this became an accomplished fact, it was regarded as a victory which Lawrence had won for Christ; and his day therefore was the chief Saint's Day after that of Saints Peter and Paul. Hence, in the Lateran palace, since early times, the Pontifical Chapel hath been named for holy Lawrence; and there, every day after Mass the Thanksgiving, now to be found in the Missal, was recited with the Collect of Saint Lawrence as a memorial to him.


O LORD, who knowest us to be sore beset by reason of our sins: mercifully grant that, like as thou didst enable thy blessed servant Lawrence to overcome the fires of his torments; so we may by thy grace assuage the flames of our temptations. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Anglican Breviary, Frank Gavin Liturgical Foundation, Inc., New York, 1955, pages 1374-1375, 1379

Additional Information:

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