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Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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Patron Saint of Rome
St Lawrence (sometimes spelled Laurence) was born on December 31, 225 AD, in Valencia, Spain. He became a priest and later served as a deacon (leader of the Catholic Church) in Rome, under Pope Sixtus II. This was an important role and included guarding the church's treasure and looking after the poor.
The Rome that St Lawrence lived in was ruled by the Roman Emperor Valerian. It was a city that worshipped Roman gods, not the God of Christianity. Valerian hated Christians. So much so that he had the Prefect of Rome arrest and execute all the Christian Church leaders, including Pope Sixtus II.
Before he was arrested Lawrence set about giving the Catholic Church's money away to the poor. This caught the prefect's attention, who wanted the money for himself. He ordered Lawrence to show him where the gold and silver were, promising to spare his life if he did so. He gave Lawrence three days to do this.
During this time, Lawrence rounded up the sick and poor across the city, When the prefect arrived to get the treasure, Lawrence presented the sick and poor to him, telling him that these were the real treasure of the Church, not the gold and silver. The prefect was very angry and ordered Lawrence's immediate execution.
This occurred on August 10, 258 AD. On this date every year, a feast is celebrated by some in the Catholic Church, to honour this brave man. Along with being the patron saint of Rome, St Lawrence is also the patron saint of students, the poor, cooks and comedians.