St. Laurence was one of seven deacons who were in charge of giving help to the poor and the needy.
When persecution broke out in Rome in the third century, Pope St. Sixtus was condemned to death. As they took the Pope away for execution, Laurence followed him weeping.
"Father, where are you going without your deacon?"
"I am not leaving you, my son," answered the Pope. "In three days, you will follow me."
Full of joy, Laurence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had with him. He even sold expensive church vessels so he would have more money to give away. The prefect of Rome, a greedy man, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. He ordered Laurence to bring the Church's treasure to him. The saint said he would, in three days.
Then, he went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church. He showed them to the prefect and said: "These people are the Church's treasure." The prefect was furious. In his anger, he asked them to kill Laurence slowly so he would suffer more. The saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted him. God gave him so much strength and joy that Laurence joked with the judge saying "Turn me over".
Before he died, he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus. He prayed that the Catholic faith would spread all over the world. Laurence died on August 10, 158. His feast spread throughout Italy and northern Africa. Emperor Constantine built a beautiful basilica in Laurence's honor. St. Laurence is among the saints mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer at Mass.
Join us in our patron’s prayer:
Almighty God, who called your deacon Laurence to serve you with deeds of love, and gave him the crown of martyrdom: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfill your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.