Friday, August 12

Lessons from the Saints - Lawrence

As promised, I am writing about the patron saint of the South (you'll see). 

Lawrence of Rome was an archdeacon who worked for the bishop of Rome, Pope Sixtus II.  When Sixtus and the other six archdeacons were arrested, this left Lawrence as the leader of the church in Rome as well as the steward of the Treasures of the Church (including, by tradition, the Grail). 

After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded Lawrence appear before him with the Treasures of the Church in three days.  In response, Lawrence distributed every penny of the church to the poor, lame, blind and indigent.  When he appeared, a crowd of these 'wretched refuse' came with him and he is purported to have said that these people were the treasures of the Church and that the Church was far richer than the Emperor. 

The prefect was....unamused, and this action led to Lawrence's martyrdom by being roasted alive atop a gridiron.  Legend has it that Lawrence told the executioner at one point to 'turn me over, I am done on this side'.

Part of the inspiration that comes from Lawrence comes from his courage and I will admit that at least part of what I draw from the tale is his bon vivant spirit in the face of pain and death.  Given the recent conversations about current economics and societal issues, I would like to highlight the part of the tale which normally gets underplayed.

Lawrence, in the course of a week, goes from being one of seven personal assistants to the bishop of Rome to being the de facto Pope, responsible for safeguarding the wealth of the Church....and having an 'audit' in 3 days.  He hears the Call and steps up to the plate, doing what is hardest but best, knowing his life will be forfeit because of it.  Having decided to do these things, he does them with flair and a happy heart.  There's a lot to that. 

Oh, and why the patron saint of the South?  Barbecue, of course.

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