St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr
MIDWAY between the great Spanish cities of Madrid and Toledo lies the lovely small city of Aranjuez. King Philip II preferred to reside there when free from royal duties in court.
Sometime during his reign, Philip II decided to build for himself a palace which is very unique, for it is shaped like a gridiron or a gigantic barbeque pit. When asked why, the king replied it was to honor his favorite saint from Valencia: St. Lawrence, the deacon.
As deacon in the service of Pope Sixtus II, Lawrence was placed in charge of the church’s treasury. When Emperor Valerian heard of the information, he greedily ordered Lawrence to appear in court where the emperor demanded that the treasures of the Church be handed over to the imperial coffers. Lawrence promptly obeyed.
The very next day, he appeared before Valerian but this time, he showed him the beggars, the lame, blind and deaf gathered from the streets of Rome.
Highly offended and frustrated at the deacon’s action which he thought was not funny Valerian ordered his soldiers to tie the deacon to a huge barbecue pit for a slow roast.
While being grilled, Lawrence called the guard and said, “Sir, my right side is already well-done, but my left is still medium-rare. Will you please be so kind as to turn my body to the left?” This the soldier gleefully and promptly did.
With his body sizzling, his skin crackling, and the scent of burning flesh being wafted skywards, St. Lawrence, the 32-year old deacon from Spain, rose to heaven.
The martyrdom of a brave and loyal servant of the Church took place in Rome on the 10th day of August, the 258th year of Our Lord.