The death of St. Lawrence

Vincent Chiarello reminds me that August 10 is the feast day for St. Lawrence, and forwards the below article, “Tears of Saint Lawrence” (I don’t have the author’s name) which tells about the annual meteorite shower named for St. Lawrence and about how he met his death.

Feast of Saint Lawrence—August 10

Every summer, the heavens provide a dazzling display of meteorites in the night skies. Astronomers call this shower of light the Perseids, named after the constellation Perseus, the area of the night sky from which the meteorite shower appears to originate. It is also known as the Tears of Saint Lawrence.

Meteorites are the dross or molten waste left behind by the comet named Swift-Tuttle (discovered in 1862.) This comet takes approximately 130 years to circle the Sun, and in its wake it leaves behind particles of debris ranging in size from grains of sand to peas and even marbles. These particles travel at 37 miles per second, and as they enter the outermost atmosphere of the Earth, they create spectacular displays of streaks of greenish to white light across the dark sky.

The shower builds slowly over two weeks, then peaks for a few days, then sharply declines in intensity ending one week later. The Perseids can begin as early as July 17 and end as late as August 24. At its peak, one can see 50—60 meteorites flash every hour.

This year, the peak of the Perseids will be after midnight and before dawn on the evenings of August 11, 12 and 13. August 12 may be the most active night to watch. The moon is a waning crescent, so it will not interfere with viewing. Most meteors usually fall in the dark hours just before dawn. Just lie down in a reclining lawn char and watch the show.

The Perseids are also affectionately know as The Tears of Saint Lawrence, named after the Saint whose feast occurs during this annual display.

Saint Lawrence (Laurentius—Latin for “laurelled”) was one of seven deacons who served under Pope Saint Sixtus II [during the late third century] who were charged with giving help to the poor and needy. The Prefect of Rome, Valerian, a greedy pagan, had Sixtus arrested and martyred. Following Sixtus to his execution, Lawrence wept saying, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” The Pope said, “I am not leaving you my son, in three days you will follow me.”

Full of joy at this news, Lawrence gave to the poor the rest of the money he had on hand and even sold expensive vessels to have more money to give away.

Valerian, thinking that the Church must have great wealth stored away, commanded Lawrence to bring to him the Church’s treasures. Lawrence said he would do so in three days. He went through the city and gathered together the all the poor and sick supported by the Church. On the third day, Lawrence appeared before Valerian with his rabble crowd, saying, “This is the Church’s treasure.”

Lawrence’s insolence so angered Valerian that he condemned him to a cruel death atop an iron grate over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little. Lawrence was so filled with love of God that he almost did not feel the flames. He had such strength that he even joked: “Turn me over, I’m done on this side.” Just before his death, Lawrence said, “It’s cooked enough now.” Then he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic Faith might spread all over the world.

Legend holds that those who witnessed his martyrdom experience one of two things: Pagans smelled the stench of burning flesh, while Christians standing amongst the gathering smelled a beautiful aroma unlike anything they have ever experienced before. God permits some of His saints to emit an Odor of Sanctity at the time of their death to tell the world that this man or woman is a saint. Lawrence died in 258 AD.

The death of Lawrence marked the end of Pagan worship in ancient Rome. The name Lawrence in prominent among martyrs and is in the Canon of the Mass. He is buried with Saint Stephen at San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (Saint Lawrence outside the Wall), an ancient basilica with a wealth of early Christian artifacts. San Lorenzo is one of the five patriarchal basilicas and one of the seven pilgrimage churches of Rome.

Lawrence is the Patron Saint of deacons, single men and cooks.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 10, 2012 07:52 PM | Send

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