Jesus is with us through every trial, every pain, and every disappointment that we face. He wants to help us, but we need to reach out to Him in our sorrows. Just as Saint Lawrence faced martyrdom with joy – and hope in the Lord – we can find joy even amid sadness and pain. This is because we know that Heaven awaits those of us who trust in the Lord. In this eBook you will find Scripture passages, quotes, and prayers that we hope will help you unite your suffering with Jesus - and help you find joy always. 

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Who was Pope Sixtus II?

Pope St. Sixtus II was elected in secret as the 23rd Successor of St. Peter on August 30, 257. According to his biographer, he was a “good and peaceful priest.” He was also skillful in avoiding the first of Valerian’s brutal persecutions―which occurred in his first months as pope. However, less than a year after his election, he and six of his deacons were arrested and beheaded on August 6th, 258. The seventh, Lawrence, would be captured and martyred a few days later, on the 10th. As a Greek, he was not accorded the swift death by beheading given to a Roman citizen. 

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Who was the Roman emperor during the time of St. Lawrence?

The Roman emperor during the time of St. Lawrence was Valerian, whose rule was from 253 to 260 AD.  In 257 he undertook a persecution of Christians, ordering that the clergy offer sacrifices to the Roman gods. Then in 258 he ordered the arrest and execution of the clergy. Among his victims were St. Lawrence and Pope St. Sixtus II. Only two years later, Valerian himself would be taken prisoner by the Persians during a war and is said to have died a slave. This fact is made note of in Evelyn Waugh’s novel Helena, in which it is said of Valerian, “They have him on show in Persia, stuffed."

Was St. Lawrence a Deacon of Rome?

St. Lawrence was among the seven deacons who assisted Pope Sixtus II in his administration of the Roman Church (cf. Acts 6:1-6). The Pope recognized Lawrence’s innocence, and in spite of his young age (early 30s) chose him as one of his seven deacons. He even made him his principal assistant, the archdeacon of Rome. 

“Turn me over. I am finished on this side.” – Saint Lawrence

How did St. Lawrence die as a martyr?

When the Roman authorities captured and killed Pope Sixtus II and the other six deacons, St. Lawrence was left to administer what remained. He was taken prisoner and told to collect the “treasures of the Church.” Instead of gold and silver, he presented the poor people to whom he had distributed the chalices, patens, and other altar vessels. Angered, it is said that the Roman prefect tortured Lawrence by chaining him to a gridiron and roasting him upon it. After the martyr had suffered the pain for a long time, the tradition states he made his famous remark, “It is well done. Turn me over!” 

Where is St. Lawrence buried?

While the ancient accounts do not agree on the exact manner and details of St. Lawrence’s death, St. Lawrence has been recognized as one of the great martyrs of the Roman Church since shortly after his death. After the edict of Milan in 313 legalizing Christianity, the emperor Constantine had a chapel built on the site of his martyrdom and burial, located “outside the walls” of Rome of that time. Pope Damascus (366-384) built a basilica on the site, which was added to and decorated by several popes over the centuries. Today the Minor Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls is a beautiful ancient church containing the remains of the Saint, relics of St. Stephen the Protomartyr, the tombs of several popes, as well as the gridiron said to be instrument of his martyrdom. 

For greater detail on his life and martyrdom:

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“I thank You, O Lord; that I am permitted to enter Your portals.” – Saint Lawrence

Are there deacons of Rome today?

Since Vatican II and the restoration of the permanent diaconate, it has been possible for any diocesan bishop to have deacons who are permanent, rather than just deacons on their way to the priesthood. As of 2021, the Roman See had 137 permanent deacons in her service, and 17 transitional deacons who were ordained to the priesthood for the diocese of Rome that year. (2021 Pontificio Annuario

For centuries, however, the office of the Roman deacon held by St. Lawrence has continued in another way, as well. Each of the Cardinal electors of the Pope is assigned a Roman “titular office” based on the early divisions of Rome into suburban dioceses, parishes and administrative regions. Thus a man who is made a Cardinal receives such an honorary title, whether of Cardinal Bishop, Cardinal Priest or Cardinal Deacon. In doing so he is expected to perform an office of service for the Church, which both anciently and today, includes serving, advising and electing the Bishop of Rome, who is also the Pope.

“My God I honor and Him alone I serve.” – Saint Lawrence

How did Saint Lawrence's death affect the Church of his day?

As a result of the persecution of Valerian, many conversions took place. The courage and dignity of Saint Lawrence in facing death did much to gain respect for Christianity in Rome and around the region. The love and service of the poor, exemplified by St. Lawrence, who called them the “true treasures” of the Church, was a particular characteristic for which Christians became known and admired. 

What is St. Lawrence the patron saint of?

St. Lawrence is the patron saint of comedians, comedy writers, chefs, sous-chefs, short-order cooks, and restaurateurs.  He is also the patron saint of manufacturers, sommeliers, chocolatiers, clowns, fire prevention, glaziers, stained glass artists, libraries, poor, tanners, and the French.

Videos About St. Lawrence

Why is St. Lawrence considered as the patron saint of cooks?

St. Lawrence is recognized to be the patron saint of cooks, chefs, and restaurateurs. According to the story, his executioners built a slow fire beneath a large gridiron, then had Lawrence stripped naked and bound to the grill. Just before he died, it is said that St. Lawrence called his executioners and said, “Turn me over. I'm done on this side.”

What lessons can we learn from St. Lawrence?

Saint Lawrence teaches us that we should not fear religious oppression. With great confidence and fortitude through prayer, we can overcome the challenges that stand before us. And even in the midst of persecution, we can maintain joy in Christ.

For what saying is St. Lawrence best known?

"Turn me over! I am finished on this side.” This is attributed to him as he was being roasted on a gridiron during his martyrdom by Roman authorities. This is an example, of which there are many in Church history, of Christians showing joy, and in his case good humor, in the midst of crucifixion, burning, or other slow brutal deaths, at the hands of Christ’s enemies.  

What are the “tears of St. Lawrence?”

The Perseid meteor shower, also called the "tears of St. Lawrence," is a meteor shower which has been observed by human beings for at least 2000 years. It’s called the “tears of St. Lawrence” as it occurs each August around his feast day. 

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