Sunday, August 10, 2008

Feast of Saint Lawrence

I was named me after the 3rd century martyr Lawrence of Rome, and today, the anniversary of his death is my "feast day," called "Onomastico" in Italian. I started the tradition of celebrating my feast day because I usually find myself in academic settings and celebrating a birthday on the 2nd of September was a time too busy with the start of a new school year to think about a birthday party. Friends in New York will remember many great Bar-B-Que experiences on the feast of St. Lawrence!
A ceramic made by monks in Valyermo, California, on our table today

I offer you a couple images I have taken of Saint Lawrence, followed by a short biography from
In front of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, Rome

19th century window in the duomo of Perugia

From the facade of the Municipal Building in Perugia

From the Cathedral in Monreale, Sicily

Lawrence was a third-century archdeacon of Rome, distributor of alms, and "keeper of the treasures of the church" in a time when Christianity was outlawed. On 6 August 258, by decree of Emperor Valerian, Pope Saint Sixtus II and six deacons were beheaded, leaving Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome.

While in prison awaiting execution Sixtus reassured Lawrence that he was not being left behind; they would be reunited in four days. Lawrence saw this time as an opportunity to disperse the material wealth of the church before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it. On 10 August Lawrence was commanded to appear for his execution, and to bring along the treasure with which he had been entrusted by the pope. When he arrived, the archdeacon was accompanied by a multitude of Rome's crippled, blind, sick, and indigent. He announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. Martyr.

Statue from the cathedral in Palermo, Sicily

Lawrence's care for the poor, the ill, the neglected have led to his patronage of them. His work to save the material wealth of the Church, including its documents, brought librarians and those in related fields to see him as a patron, and to ask for his intercession. And his incredible strength and courage when being grilled to death led to his patronage of cooks and those who work in or supply things to the kitchen. The meteor shower that follows the passage of the Swift-Tuttle comet was known in the middle ages as the "burning tears of Saint Lawrence" because they appear at the same time as Lawrence's feast.

Lawrence was born at Huesca, Spain. He died cooked to death on a gridiron on 10 August 258; buried in the cemetery of Saint Cyriaca on the road to Tivoli, Italy; tomb was opened by Pelagius to inter the body of Saint Stephen the Martyr; his mummified head removed to the Quirinal Chapel; the gridiron believed to have been his deathbed is in San Lorenzo in Lucina; garments in Our Lady's Chapel in the Lateran Palace.
from the Cloisters Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC


Willym said...

duh... well of course its your Name Day... guess its because I think of you as a Larry not a Lawrence. Buono onomastico - we should have done a wennie roast!

Anonymous said...

Happy Saint Day!