August 10: ST. LAWRENCE,
DEACON, AND MARTYR.
Patron Saint of Cooks, Chefs and Comedians. Short bio.
A Roman deacon, St. Lawrence died four days after Pope Sixtus II, during the persecution of Valerian (3rd century).
At the beginning of the month of August, 258, Emperor Valerian issued an imperial edict, commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should be immediately put to death. On 6 August, Pope Sixtus II was apprehended in one of the Roman catacombs, and as he was being led away to his death he comforted Lawrence, who wished to share his martyrdom, by saying that he would follow him in three days. He also instructed him to safeguard the material goods of the Church, which his responsibility as a deacon, aside from the distribution of alms to the poor.
St. Lawrence obeyed the Pope’s instructions and distributed the treasures to the Christians as alms and other important relics for safeguarding, including the Holy Chalice supposedly used by Our Lord during the Last Supper, which he sent to his parents in Huesca, Spain with a letter of inventory through a good Christian. The Holy Chalice is now venerated in the Cathedral of Valencia.
St. Ambrose recounts that when St. Lawrence was arrested by the prefect and called on to deliver up the property of the Church, he said pointing to a crowd of poor people, “Here are the true treasures of the Church.” The prefect was beaming mad that he sent his men to prepare a burning furnace in a gridiron (a frame of parallel bars or beams, typically in two sets forming a grid, in particular) with coals beneath it and had St. Lawrence’s body placed on it. According to a legend, after having suffered all the scorching pain, St. Lawrence uttered his famous merry remark to his torturers: “I’m well-done on this side. Turn me over.” For this reason, St. Lawrence is considered as the patron saint of cooks, chefs and comedians as well.
Dear friends, let us thank God for the heroic testimony of St. Lawrence’s faith, love and service for His Church even up to martyrdom. And while we ask God for the same dispositions and for all of us, in particular for our persecuted Christian brethren all over the world, let us not forget that for the majority of us, Christians, the martyrdom which God expects from each one of us is the joyful, hidden and heroic fulfillment of the little things of our ordinary duties of our Christian life for love of God and the good of all souls.
“O God, giver of that ardor of love for you, by which Saint Lawrence was outstandingly faithful in service and glorious in martyrdom, grant that we may love what he loved and put into practice what he taught.
(Opening prayer, Mass proper).”