Question: On August 10, we celebrate St. Lawrence. He was a deacon who valued the true treasures of the church. Can you tell us more about him?
Answer: There is little known about Lawrence other than he was a deacon in Rome during the reign of Emperor Valerian from 253-259. In 258, Valerian began a persecution of the leaders of the Roman Church. Lawrence was in charge of the purse for the church of Rome. Roman officials in need of money demanded that the riches of the church be handed over to them. Lawrence asked for a few days to gather them.
Lawrence took the money he had charge over and distributed it to the poor of Rome. Then he gathered all the homeless and the poor together. When the Roman officials came again demanding the riches of the church, Lawrence pointed to the destitute and homeless, saying that these are the true riches of the church.
For this he was imprisoned and tortured. Lawrence was put to death by burning on a gridiron. It is said that as he was dying, he told his executioners to turn him over because he was done on one side and needed to be fully cooked for the Lord.
Lawrence continues to be a model for us today. The church needs continual reminders that its riches are the people. The primary purpose and mission of the church is to be continually sensitive to the needs of all God’s people, most especially the least of our brothers and sisters.