Tuesday, August 23, 2011

St. Lawrence the Archdeacon

Joyous feast! Today we celebrate the Holy Martyr Lawrence the Archdeacon of Rome and his companions, Pope Sixtus, the Deacons Felicissimus and Agapetus, and Romanus the Soldier. Pope Sixtus was enthroned on the Roman cathedra at a time of persecution and was arrested not long after his election, being imprisoned with two of his deacons. In jail St. Lawrence visited the confessors and begged to be allowed to join them St. Sixtus told him to wait, for in three days God would given him a greater trial and martyrdom than he and his deacons would endure.

At Pope St. Sixtus' trial it was revealed that St. Lawrence had distributed the Papacy's monies to the poor, per St. Sixtus' instructions, and the Saint was arrested and imprisoned. In prison St. Lawrence healed the sick through his prayers and baptized many of those around him, including his jailer Hyppolitus. When he was brought before the Roman Emperor Valerian St. Lawrence asked for three days to gather the Church's treasure for him, after which he presented to the emperor a crowd of the poor and the sick who had been helped out of the Church's charity.

The emperor handed St. Lawrence over to brutal tortures, having him scourged with an iron flail, burned, and struck with metal switches. One of his torturers, the soldier Romanus, was converted by a vision of an angel healing some of the Saint's wounds and later baptized when St. Lawrence was returned to jail. At the last St. Lawrence was placed in an iron cage and burned alive in it, praying to his God, saying, "I thank You, O Lord Jesus Christ, that You have counted me worthy to enter into Your gates!"

After the Saint had given up his spirit his former jailer, Hyppolitus, took his relics in the night, anointed them with ointments, and gave them into the care of a priest of the city, who served the Holy Mass over them and then buried them in a cave. Three days later St. Hyppolitus the Jailer and his companions were also martyred for the Orthodox Faith. The Holy Archdeacon Lawrence and the other Holy Roman Martyrs before and after him suffered in 258.

More on St. Lawrence's life can be found here. May his blessing and prayers be with us all!

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