August 10, Feast of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

(Also spelled Laurence)

I’m breaking my personal rule of posting about an upcoming saint’s day that won’t be observed this year because it falls on a Sunday. I plan on discussing and sharing some activities with my son either Saturday or Monday. Last year I briefly told him about St. Lawrence and showed him a depiction of Titian’s The Martyrdom of St. Laurence. It was just a brief, unplanned moment, and I really didn’t think it made much of an impression.

But it did make a lasting impression. It’s been a year, but in our night prayers St. Lawrence is invoked every once in a while, and he’s asked to see the picture (found in our copy of One Hundred Saints, which, by the way, is a wonderful book to have for the saints, and used copies are quite reasonable for these full-color coffee table book) many times. (Here are more examples of St. Lawrence in art Masterpieces.)

So there were some areas I wanted to cover, to continue learning about St. Lawrence. I will continue with the story of his life, including his martyrdom  on the gridiron, which is always exciting for boys who love fire.

I will look over my previous musings from 2006 and use them to to focus on Lawrence as one of the first deacons of the Church. I love his quote when he was told to surrender the treasures of the church, he rounded up sick and poor and presented them, saying “Here are the treasures of the Church!”

His role as deacon, ministering to the physical needs of the faithful, is a perfect role model of living the Corporal Works of Mercy

To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;
To clothe the naked;
To shelter the homeless;
To visit the sick;
To visit the imprisoned;
To bury the dead.

So I plan on explaining in more detail on how we can follow Jesus’ instructions, and imitating St. Lawrence.

What opportunities will we have to practice these? This month has given us ample opportunities within our extended family to practice some of these works of mercy. We have a new baby cousin coming tomorrow and a loss of another baby cousin in a late miscarriage. We are helping by feeding, visiting, and tending to the needs of these families.

I’m looking for more tangible ways our family can practice these works of mercy. Our parish reinstated Brown Bag Sunday, so I’ll make a concerted effort to have my son help me with that.

For fun, we’re serving waffles for breakfast (just the frozen allergy free kind) and maybe grill for dinner. There are two schools of thought, stay away from all heated foods, or incorporate foods that remind us of grilling or gridiron marks.

This year it seems the “Tears of St. Lawrence” or Perseids will be around August 12.

Lastly, I have a very simple coloring page: St. Lawrence Coloring Page. My son doesn’t color all the time, but when there’s fun things like FIRE, I think he will enjoy the simplicity and freedom of the page.

St. Lawrence, First Deacon and Martyr

Today (August 10) is the Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr in the early Church. He cared for sick, poor and abandoned. Under the Emperor Valerian he was grilled to death on a gridiron. (Image information: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, “Martyrdom of St Lawrence” 1614-15 WGA).

His patronage is huge, but he seems like the perfect saint for mothers. He is the patron of confectioners, cooks, laundry workers, and librarians. That covers quite a few of the hats a mother wears. Being patron of students, he’s one that both children and parents can implore!

He is also the patron of brewers and vintners, so a cold beer or nice glass of wine, toasted to St. Lawrence would very fitting today. Because he died on a gridiron, many countries have cold meals for his feast. Other imitate the gridiron — waffles, pizzelles, grilled foods bringing to mind the fiery death he endured.

Near this feast day one can observe the Perseid meteor shower, also known as Tears of St. Lawrence, or his fiery tears.

“A picture paints a thousands words.” This phrase rings true. I have a young son who can’t read yet. Picture books are our constant companion and a doorway into new worlds of learning. But using them won’t end when he starts reading. The pictures relate stories and deeper meanings than just mere words. Art can speak to the soul, and relate messages that I could never accomplish through any amount of talking. Art can sear visual images in the brain, making it easier to recall facts and other memories.

I realize this isn’t a new thought or discovery. The ladies at 4Real Learning Forum are a testament to that. Teaching one’s faith through picture books.

And even without words or books, beautiful art can teach a lesson. That was the purpose of frescoes and stained glass windows throughout Church history — to relate a story, a lesson, an article of the faith just through the image.

I came across a wonderful series of frescoes depicting the life of St. Lawrence by Fra Angelico at Web Gallery of Art. The Frescoes in the Cappella Niccolina of the Palazzi Pontifici in Vatican (1447-49) were commissioned by Pope Nicholas V. The walls of the chapel depict the lives of two of the most famous deacons in the church: St. Stephen and St. Lawrence.

St. Sixtus Entrusts the Church Treasures to Lawrence

St. Lawrence Distributing Alms

Condemnation of St Lawrence by the Emperor Valerian

Martyrdom of St. Lawrence

For more ideas on this saint: see St. Lawrence at 4RealLearning and links within the thread.

For more on this saint, see Catholic Culture and Patron Saints Index.