Laurentius (3)

Laurentius ST., according to tradition, was a disciple of pope Sixtus II (257-258), who received him among the seven Roman deacons, and afterwards made him archdeacon. When the pope, during the persecution of the Christians by Valerian, was led out to suffer martyrdom, Laurentius wished to accompany him, and to share his fate; but Sixtus prevented him, prophesying to him at the same time that he would be called upon to endure even greater sufferings for the cause of Christianity, and that he would follow him within three days. The omen was fulfilled; the Roman governor had heard of treasures belonging to the Christian Church, and wished to obtain possession of them. He desired Laurentius to reveal them to him. Laurentius seemed to comply, and was allowed to depart. Soon the courageous young disciple of Christ returned, accompanied by a crowd of paupers, cripples, and sick, whom he presented to the governor, saying, "These are our treasures." This was regarded as an insult, and in punishment he was condemned to be slowly roasted alive in an iron chair. Laurentius underwent this martyrdom with resignation and cheerfulness. He is said to have been buried in the Via Tiburtina. The pope Leo I said of him that he was as great an honor to Rome as Stephen to Jerusalem, and Augustine that the crown of Laurentius can as little be hidden as the city of Rome itself. Under Constantine a church was erected over the place where his remains were supposed to be (Sti. Laurentii extra muros); another church dedicated to him is St. Laurentii in Damaso. He is commemorated on the 10th of August. The earliest accounts of his martyrdom are to be found in Ambros. De offic. ministr. 1:41; 2:28. The most glowing account of him is Prudentius's Hymnn. in Laeur. (Prudentius, Peristeph.). Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 8:232; Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 6:365.

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