The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence

Today in the Roman calender would normally be the memorial to St. Lawrence, one of the seven deacons of Rome who was martryed along with Pope Sixtus II in 257, on the order of the Emperor Valerian.  According to St. Ambrose and Prudentius, he was ordered to present the treasures of the Church before the prefect of Rome, and accordingly he went and sold all the goods the church had and gave them to the poor, and presented all the poor and lame to the prefect, who then had him executed, not by beheading but by being burned to death on a hot iron.  (Historians doubt the story’s authenticity, but it was tradition by the time of Ambrose and Prudentius, and there is no doubt he was real and was martyred.  Here is a link to an article from New Advent on St. Lawrence.)  Prudentius hymn to Lawrence begins thus:

Antiqua fanorum parens,
iam Roma Christo dedita,
Laurentio uictrix duce
ritum triumfas barbarum

The full Latin text of Prudentius’ hymn is available here, though I haven’t been able to locate an English version yet.

Lastly, here is a poem I composed a few years ago in honor of the Saint, who is the patron of my parish.

St. Lawrence

 

Turn me over; I am ready.

I have poured out all the treasure

This flesh can change, or strive to be;

Mark them with more dire measures,

O Emperor, and prophesy

The wealth of your earthly pleasures. 

 

Turn me over, I am ready

Not to be turned upside down but

To be burned up, to be set free,

Not from the pilgrim body’s heat

But to offerings made holy,

Signed with the smoke from hell’s gates shut.

 

Turn me over. I am ready.

He has said, and the flames obey,

And these new marks will faithfully

Not leave their brand, not fade away:

But then He bears these marks with me,

And bears them all, until that Day.

 

 

 

Sanctus Laurentius, ora pro nobis.

UPDATE:  Here is a wonderful podcast by Father John Zuhlsdorf, in which he reads a sermon from St. Augustine on the Feast of St. Lawrence, both an English translation (his own if I’m not mistaken) and in the original Latin.  Deo gratias! 

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~ by Alypius on August 10, 2008.

One Response to “The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence”

  1. MOWT INTERESTING BLOG. jUST HAPPENED TO FIND IT AS i WAS SEARCHING SOEM AMTERIAL ON pRUDENTIUS HYMN ON ST LAWRENCE WHILE PREPARING AN ARTICLE ON THE SAINT TO BE PUBLISHED IN A MAGZIEN PUBLISHED EACH YEAR NEAR HIS FEAST. I LIKED YOUR POEM ON ST. LAWRNECE. IT BRINGS OUT THE TRUE CHARACTER OF THIS JOVIAL SAINT. IS IT POSSIBLE TO COPY AND PUBLISH IT IN OUR MAGAZINE (UNDER YOUR NAME OF COURSE)? with many thanks

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