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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

st lawrenceSt. Lawrence was martyred in Rome on Aug. 10, 258, along with many other members of the clergy, during the persecution of the emperor Valerian.

He was one of seven deacons in Rome who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy, and he was the last of them to die. When the persecution broke out, Pope St. Sixtus II was condemned to death. As the pope was led to execution on Aug. 6, 258, Lawrence followed him weeping, "Father, where are you going without your deacon?" he said. "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 and even sold expensive vessels to have more to give away.

After the pope was killed, Lawrence became the principal authority of the Church in Rome, having been the Church's treasurer.

The prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So 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. When he showed them to the prefect, he said: "This is the Church's treasure!"

In great anger, the prefect immediately condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. He was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little, but Lawrence was burning with so much love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. In fact, God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked: "Turn me over," he said to the judge. "I'm done on this side!" And just before he died, he said, "It's cooked enough now." Then he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic faith might spread all over the world. After that, he went to receive the martyr's reward.

He is venerated as one of the patrons of Rome, along with Sts. Peter and Paul. He is also the patron of St. Lawrence Basilica in Asheville.

— CNA/EWTN News, www.catholic.org