Laurence, Deacon of Rome
Saint Laurence is recorded as having lived in Rome during
the reign of Emperor Valerian (253-260). The emperor was actively
persecuting Christians, and demanded that the Church should
pass all of its treasures to the state. Laurence was at the
time a deacon in charge of the church finances and other valuables.
When this demand was made he immediately disposed of all church
assets to the poor and needy of the town. When called on to
present the monies to the emperor, he called in the poor and
impoverished and presented them to the emperor explaining
that these people were the riches and wealth of the church.
For this courageous act of witness Laurence was sentenced
to death by fire on a griddle and was duly executed in this
terrible manner. His executioner, Hippolytus, later was brought
to the Christian faith by Laurence's martyrdom.
Saint Laurence, martyred on 10 August 258, has since been
depicted standing and holding a griddle as shown both on the
Saint Laurence banner and a small wood carving kept in the
church. The Roman basilica San
Lorenzo fuori le mura was erected above his grave by emperor
Constantine the Great some forty years after his death.