So why does St. Lawrence get a feast day? Not just an optional Memorial, not just an obligatory Memorial, but a feast day—like the Apostles, like the Archangels? I mean, we all know a lot of great guys named Larry, but…
St. Lawrence served as Pope St. Sixtus II’s deacon. Both of them were martyred by order of the Emperor Valerian in the middle of the third century.
Everyone loved Lawrence. He concerned himself solely with sacred worship and the well-being of the poor. He had a great sense of humor. He went to his martyrdom with such courageous faith that some of the pagan Roman senators who witnessed it became Christians.
In other words, St. Lawrence had such strength and charisma that he bolstered the faith of countless people. We could say he was a Pope-John-Paul-II-like figure, seventeen centuries earlier. Lawrence’s tomb was erected near the site of his martyrdom, and people flocked to it in droves. The Emperor Constantine built a basilica to house the tomb. The relics of St. Justin Martyr and St. Stephen are housed with St. Lawrence’s relics. Pope St. Leo the Great said that St. Lawrence gave to the city of Rome the same luster that the first Christian martyr—St. Stephen, like Lawrence a deacon—gave to Jerusalem.
So today’s feast unites us with the long and inspiring history of our Mother Church, the Church of Rome. May St. Lawrence pray for us, that we will heroically keep the faith with love and good humor.
[Click HERE to read about Pope Benedict’s visit to St. Lawrence’s tomb.]
The splendors of the city of Antioch on the Orontes River amazed the ancient world. Owing to the vagaries of history, very few relics of the city remain.
The Baltimore Museum of Art participated in an achaeological dig in Antioch in the 1930’s. They unearthed some mosaics. A few of them are displayed on the walls of the BMA courtyard, including the striding lion above.
Another heirloom of the lost city has been handed down to us in a different way, namely, by succession.
Some 1,974 years ago today, St. Peter assumed the oversight of the church where the name “Christian” was first uttered, and was seated on his ‘chair.’ After seven years in Antioch, Peter went to Rome, where he assumed the presidency of the church on January 18.
There is some dispute about these particular dates. Also, some of our separated Christian brethren in the East claim that their patriarchs are the true successors of St. Peter, occupying his Antiochene cathedra.
The “chair” of Peter is a magnificent synecdoche referring to the supreme pastoral office in the Church. May God grant its occupant, Pope Benedict XVI, health and long years. And may his many saintly predecessors intercede for us.
…Ten years ago today, I venerated St. Peter’s tomb alongside the newly created Cardinal, Theodore McCarrick! I served his Mass at the Altar off the Chair!
A lot of people think that America sins against the Sixth Commandment more than any other. And we certainly sin against the Fifth Commandment a lot–4,000 abortions per day.
But the real problem with our culture is that we do not keep the Third Commandment. If we kept the sabbath, we could keep the other commandments. Without the sabbath, we turn into violent, self-indulgent beasts.