Lawrence, deacon and martyr

St. Lawrence, martyred this day in 258, is one of my favorites from the early church. Of course, I first learned of him from the two-degrees-removed association that is St. Lawrence University, the former Universalist college (and seminary.)

Much of what we know of him is legendary. Suffice it to say that he was in charge of the church’s treasury, which the civil authorities demanded. Lawrence assembled poor Christians and presented them, “These are the treasures of the church.”

Yes, that’s enough to get you martyred. First he was beaten, and then (I hope the story is an act of pious fiction) he was roasted alive on a gridiron, with his famous “turn me over; I’m done on this side” quip.

When I was in Rome in June, I took these pictures.

martyrdom sitecloisterstatue

Left to right: (1) the traditional site of his martyrdom, in the Roman Forum; (2) the lovely cloister of the Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, my favorite of the patriarchal basilicas, St. Peter’s included; (3) a statue of the saint (with his gridiron) atop a column, outside the basilica.

You can see a 360 degree image of the interior of the basilica, constructed over the catacombs where his remains were taken, here.

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