“Assum est. Versa et manduca."
St. Lawrence, Archdeacon of Rome, was a third-century martyr who embodies the ideals of care for the poor and of cheerful faith in the face of suffering.
Archdeacon Lawrence had the duty of using church funds to care for the poor and needy. He was commanded by the Roman Emperor Valerian to turn over the treasures of the church in which he served. At the appointed time, Lawrence appeared in court along with a crowd of the poor, diseased, and unwanted of Rome. The furious emperor demanded, "I told you to bring me your treasures! What is this rabble doing here?"
Lawrence coolly replied, "Your honor, these are the treasures of the Christian Church."
For his audacity, Archdeacon Lawrence was sentenced to a particularly cruel death. He was trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey and ”roasted” on a gridiron over a slow fire. But even in his torment he gave thanks to God, and mocked the emperor for his paganism and unbelief. After he had roasted for some time he remarked to his torturers, "Better turn him over now; he's done on this side."
His life and death are powerful. He models the charism of diakonia…genuine “ministry”, or literally, service, of the gospel in the heart of the Church. He witnessed to and lived out the command of Our Lord as found in Matthew 25 (“... Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”).
May we all be inspired by the example and martyria of St. Lawrence, and may the Lord raise up deacons in the church, both ordained and lay, after the “order of St Lawrence”.