Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

The Church’s True Wealth

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fresco cycle on the life of St. Stephen and Laurentius, scene: St. Laurentius before the court of the emperor Valerian, who orders him tortured to death on a fire-grate

Saint Lawrence (225–258) was a deacon known as the keeper of the church’s treasures. That means he disbursed donated alms to the needy. In August of 258 A.D., the pagan Emperor Valerian outlawed Christianity, and Roman authorities demanded that Lawrence turn over the wealth of the church.

They first tortured him extensively looking for information on other Christians, and then they laid him atop a gridiron grill, to be slowly cooked to death. Put somewhat more intellectually, according to The Golden Legend or Lives Of The Saints, Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275:

The Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, by Hipólito de Rioja – 17th century

“And the ministers despoiled him, and laid him stretched out upon a gridiron of iron, and laid burning coals under, and held him with forks of iron. Then said Laurenee to Valerianus: Learn, thou cursed wretch, that thy coals give to me refreshing of coldness, and make ready to thee torment perdurable, and our Lord knoweth that I, being accused, have not forsaken him, and when I was demanded I confessed him Christ, and I being roasted give thankings unto God.”

Lawrence appeared before the authorities followed by a multitude of Rome’s crippled, blind, sick, and needy. He had given away everything the church possessed to these people and told his persecutors, “Here are the true treasures of the church.” 

Though Lawrence was executed, this story is a reminder of the true treasures our church holds — all of us who need its tender care.

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