Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hail, Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

"St. Lawrence," mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna

From the Roman Martyrology:

"At Rome, on the Tiburtine road, the birthday of the blessed archdeacon Lawrence, a martyr during the persecution of Valerian (257 AD). After much suffering from imprisonment, from scourging with whips set with iron or lead, from hot metal plates, he at last completed his martyrdom by being slowly consumed on an iron instrument made in the form of a gridiron. His body was buried by blessed Hippolytus and the priest Justin in the cemetery of Cyriaca, in the Veran field."

The Roman Martyrology was published by Pope Gregory XIII in 1583 AD , and is based on the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, which was compiled in Gaul by monks in the 6th century AD.   It's been argued that the story of St. Lawrence's roasting grew out of a misspelling (assus est, "was roasted", instead of passus est, "was martyred").   Also, some scholars believe that the mosaic above actually depicts St. Vincent of Saragossa, not St. Lawrence.  Tradition, however, has long held the  image to represent St. Lawrence.  Such imprecision ought not to trouble us.   After all, 257 AD was a long time ago, and the difficulty of keeping track of who got martyred and how so many centuries ago should be clear to those of us who can't remember what we had for breakfast this morning.

St. Lawrence, pray for us.

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