Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon Martyr
Blessed Amadeus (Amedeus) of Portugal, OFM (PC)
Died 1482. This noble man began his religious career as a Hieronymite, but later joined the Franciscans as a lay brother at Assisi in spite of opposition. He led a quasi-eremitical life but was later ordained to the priesthood and founded several houses, which were united to those of the Franciscan Observants in 1568 (Benedictines).
Asteria (Hesteria) of Bergamo VM (RM)
Died at Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy, c. 307. According to her passio of rather dubious origins, Saint Asteria, the virgin sister of Saint Grata, was brutally martyred under Diocletian. The sisters are both associated with the burial of Saint Alexander (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Bassa, Paula, & Agathonica VV MM (RM)
Date unknown. Three Christian virgins who were martyred together at Carthage (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Bettelin (Bertram) of Ilam (AC)
Date unknown. There is a chapel, font, well, and substantial portions of Bettelin's shrine at Ilam in Stafford, but little remains of his memory. He may have been an Anglo-Saxon hermit, who lived, died, and was venerated in that area. Legend adds some rather improbable details borrowed from the legend of Saint Bertelme of Fécamp: he was a Mercian prince who fell in love with an Irish princess, brought her back to England, and left her in the forest in labor. When he returned with a midwife, a pack of wolves was devouring her. As a result, he became a hermit for the rest of his life (Farmer).
Deusdedit of Rome (RM)
6th century. Saint Gregory the Great in his Dialogues (1.4, c. 46) tells us of his holy contemporary in Rome. Deusdedit was a simple laborer who sanctified all his work through his prayers and penance. Each Saturday he distributed to the poor all that he could save from what he earned that week (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Gerontius (Geraint), King M (AC)
Died 508(?). Saint Gerontius of Damnonia (Devon) and his wife Enid were the subjects of romantic legends. He died in battle against the Saxons. There is another King Saint Gerontius of Cornwall, who died in 596. One of these saints is the patron of Saint Gerrans in Cornwall and Saint Géran in Brittany (Benedictines).
Blessed Hugh de Montaigu, OSB B (AC)
Died 1136. This Hugh received his education at the hands of his uncle, Saint Hugh of Cluny. Thereafter he was professed a Benedictine at Cluny himself. In 1096, he was consecrated bishop of Auxerre (Benedictines).
Lawrence (Laurence) of Rome, Deacon M (RM)
Born in Huesca (?), Spain; died in Rome, Italy, 258. Lawrence was said to be a Spaniard who came to Rome to serve Pope Saint Sixtus II as one of the seven deacons of Rome. The pope himself was martyred in 258 during the Valerian persecution, the year after the first publication of the decrees against the Christians. While one version of the martyrdom of Sixtus has him beheaded at the time of discovery in the catacombs, the another has him taken away for questioning and returned within a few hours to the spot for execution. In either case, several early Christian writers, among them Saints Ambrose and Prudentius, record that Lawrence was overwhelmed with grief when Sixtus was condemned.
The latter one tells us that Lawrence followed the pope and his captors to the place of execution, asking why Sixtus II should be murdered and not his deacon (however, six deacons were martyred with Sixtus). Sixtus replied, "My son, I am not leaving you. In a few days you will follow me."
Lawrence, overjoyed that he was to follow his master to martyrdom, had one task left. As a deacon, Lawrence was a steward of the property and wealth of the church. It was his duty to provide alms to those in need. Lawrence gathered together all the poor, the orphans, and the widows he could find and gave them all he possessed. Lawrence even sold some of the church's gold and silver, handing over this money too to the needy.
The prefect, Cornelius Saecularis, believing that the Church was wealthy, ordered that everything of value be turned over to the emperor for the upkeep of his armies. The prefect said, "I understand that according to your teaching you must render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Your God didn't bring any money into the world with him, all He brought was words. So give us the money, and you can keep the words."
Lawrence said he would need three days to gather it together. In those three days he sold the rest of the property that he administered and brought together thousands of lepers, the blind, and the sick, the destitute, widows, orphans, and the aged. These he presented to the prefect, observing, "The church is truly rich, far richer then your emperor."
In his rage the prefect threatened to kill Lawrence slowly. He took a huge gridiron, heated it until it glowed, and binding Lawrence to the metal, roasted him to death. Ambrose tells us that the fire of Divine love burned so brightly in Lawrence that he bore the agony with unbelievable calm and in the midst of his torment instructed the executioner to turn him over, as he was broiled enough on the one side. Later he said, "It is cooked enough. You may eat." It is said that as he lay dying, his face seemed to be surrounded by a beautiful light. After praying for the conversion of Rome, he died.
According to Prudentius, his death and example led to the conversion of Rome and signaled the end of paganism in the city. There is no doubt that his death inspired a great devotion in Rome, which quickly spread throughout the entire Church. Both he and Sixtus are named in the canon of the Mass.
The existence and martyrdom of Saint Lawrence are attested by the very ancient Deposito Martyrum. However, scholars are not wholly in agreement about how much credence can be given to such particulars about Saint Lawrence because his passio was not written until at least a century after his death. The fact of his martyrdom was widely accepted by the Fathers, but there is room to doubt the details. For example, it is more likely that he was beheaded, as was Sixtus, because this was the usual manner of execution at that time. The gridiron appears to be derived from a Phrygian source through the acta of Saint Vincent of Saragossa.
He was buried in the cemetery of Cyriaca in the Campo Verano on the Via Tiburtina (on the way to Tivoli), on the site of what is now the Church of Saint Lawrence-outside-the-Walls. Five ancient churches are dedicated to Lawrence in Rome, 228 were dedicated to him in England prior to the Reformation, as well as the cathedral of Lund and the Escorial in Spain. Pope Vitalian sent some of his relics to King Oswiu of Northumbria in the 7th century. Lawrence's intercession was reputed to have caused the victories of Christian armies in the battle of Lichfeld against the Magyars in 955, and at Saint-Quentin, in 1557 (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, White).
Generally, he is pictured as a deacon with a gridiron, or giving money to the poor [Pope Sixtus II or greeted by him on his way to martyrdom; (3) putting a chalice on Saint Michael's scales to save the Emperor's life; (4) leading a soul from purgatory (which he is reputed to do every Friday); (5) baptizing in prison; (6) scourged and roasted on gridiron (Roeder); or (7) carrying a long cross on his shoulder and a Gospel book in his hand as in the Ravenna mosaics (White). The most complete cycle of his life was painted by Saint Fra Angelico for the chapel of Nicholas V in the Vatican. These include Saint Lawrence Receiving the Treasures of the Church, The Ordination of Saint Lawrence, and Saint Lawrence in Justice and his Martyrdom. Bourges and Poitiers has notable stained glass windows depicting Lawrence (Farmer).
He was one of the most popular and powerful saints of the Middle Ages, which accounts for his many patronages. He is the patron of deacons (Farmer), schoolboys, students, armorers, brewers, confectioners, cooks (what did you expect--he was roasted ), cutlers, glaziers, and launderers (Roeder).
Martyrs of Alexandria MM (RM)
Died 260-267. The laus of the Roman Martyrology records: "At Alexandria the commemoration of holy martyrs who in the persecution of Valerian, under Emilian the Governor, were long tormented with various and sharp tortures, and obtained the crown of martyrdom by diverse kinds of deaths" that were graphically detailed by Saint Dionysius of Alexandria (Benedictines).
Thiento and Companions, OSB MM (AC)
Died 955. Thiento, a Bavarian abbot of Wessobrunn, and six of his monks who were martyred by invading Hungarians (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.