Skip to content

Pope Saint Sixtus II, Saint Lawrence, and Saint Romanus

Victories of the Martyrs

 

By Saint Alphonsus Maria de Ligouri, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

 

Chapter LXI

 

Saints Sixtus II, Pope; Lawrence, Deacon; Romanus, Soldier

 

August 6, 9, and 10

 

From the sacramentary of St. Leo it would appear that St. Lawrence was by birth a Roman citizen, but was probably a Spaniard by descent ; yet some authors state that he was born in Spain, and that he came to Rome when very young. St. Peter Chrysologus observes, that though poor in earthly possessions, he was rich in heavenly gifts, for which reason Pope St. Sixtus conceived a great affection for him, and not only regarded him as one of his most beloved disciples, but promoted him to deacon s orders, placed him over seven other deacons, and appointed him his treasurer and almoner.

 

The Emperor Valerian was, at the beginning of his reign, rather favorable to the Christians, but in the year 258 he raised a fierce persecution against them, which was particularly directed against the bishops and clergy. St. Sixtus was accordingly one of the first who was arrested ; as he was preparing to celebrate the divine mysteries in the cemetery of Calixtus, he was loaded with chains and conducted to prison. St. Lawrence, having heard of his arrest, went to see him, and as St. Ambrose relates, (De Officiis, 1. I, c. 41.) addressed him in the following manner: “Whither dost thou go, Father, without thy deacon? What hast thou seen in me to displease thee, and which could induce thee to abandon me? Dost thou doubt me ; let me have some trial before I am thus cast off?” St. Sixtus replied: “No, my son, I abandon thee not ; a trial greater than mine, in testimony of the faith of Jesus Christ, awaits thee. The Lord, in consideration of the weakness of my age, exposes me to a less arduous struggle; but greater torments and a more glorious victory are reserved for thee. Go; and instantly distribute amongst the poor the treasures of the church, and prepare thyself for martyrdom.” St. Lawrence, inflamed as he was with the desire of martyrdom, received great consolation from these words, and lost no time disposing of the sacred vessels and vestments of the church, and distributing the money among the poor. He then returned to the prison, to visit the Holy Father, and finding him about to be led to the place of execution to be beheaded, he informed him that he had complied with his orders, and casting himself at his feet, implored his benediction, in the hope of shortly following his footsteps. St. Sixtus was beheaded, August 6, in the year 258.

 

The prefect of Rome, having been informed that St. Lawrence held the property of the church, sent for him, and required him to deliver it up, alleging that the emperor needed it for the payment of the army. The saint composedly replied that he should be allowed some time, and that he would then show him how rich the church was. Within eight days the saint was enabled to assemble all the poor who had received succor from the church funds, and going to the prefect said to him: “Come, and thou shalt see the treasures of our church.”  The prefect, finding only an assemblage of paupers, looked furiously upon the holy deacon, who said to him: “My lord, thou art angered; but remember, that silver and gold and precious stones are but dross extracted from the earth, but the riches of the Christians are the poor, whom the property of the Church supports.” The prefect, finding his avarice baffled by the saint, commanded him to renounce Jesus Christ; and finding his faith immovable, ordered that he should be scourged with rods as a slave. At the same time he was threatened with greater torments unless he consented to sacrifice to the gods; but Lawrence protested that he was willing to undergo any punishment rather than worship deities who were worthy of nothing but contempt. The prefect then sent him to prison, in charge of Hippolytus, an officer of the guards. Hippolytus was struck with the intrepidity, the conduct, and the language of the saint, and began to conceive a species of veneration for him, but the miracles which lie subsequently wrought in prison affected his conversion. Amongst these was the cure of a blind man named Lucillus, whose sight was restored by the saint s touching his eyes; upon witnessing this miracle, Hippolytus requested to be baptized.

 

On the following day the prefect summoned the saint before him, and endeavored by promises and threats to make him renounce Jesus Christ. All his exertions proving useless, he commanded him to be stretched upon the rack until all his bones were dislocated, and his flesh to be torn by scourges armed with iron points.  The saint believed that he was about to expire under this torture, Tor he prayed to the Lord to receive his soul; but he heard a voice which intimated to him that his triumph was not yet complete, and that other tortures were reserved for him. It is recorded by some writers that this voice was heard by all, even the prefect, who exclaimed: “Heed not the voice of the demons who wait upon this sorcerer.” At the same, a soldier named Romanus saw an angel in the form of a beautiful youth, who wiped away the blood which flowed from the wounds of the holy martyr, and being converted by this vision, approached St. Lawrence, and intimated to him his desire to be baptized. The saint could not then comply with his wish; but the emperor, understanding that Lawrence still persisted, ordered that he should be sent to prison, and there undergo still greater tortures.

 

Romanus procured a vessel of water, and entering the prison of St. Lawrence received the necessary instructions, the sacrament of regeneration, and exhortations to prepare himself for martyrdom, which he received with great joy on the 9th of August, the day immediately preceding the triumph of our saint.

 

The prefect again summoned Lawrence to his presence, and asked him: “Why dost thou so insolently despise our gods?” The saint replied: “Because they are false gods; reason itself dictates that the true God can be only one.” Upon these words the tyrant caused his jaws to be broken by blows of a stone, and ordered him to be stretched upon a red-hot gridiron, under which a slow fire was placed, in order that his torture might be the more prolonged and painful. But these cruel torments seemed only to increase the intrepidity of the saint, who, perceiving that one side was completely roasted, said to the tyrant: “If thou wilt feed upon my flesh, thou mayest turn me and eat, as one side is done.”  He then raised his eyes to heaven, and manifesting the joy with which he died, placidly rendered his soul to God, on the 10th of August, in the year 258.

 

Hippolytus and a priest named Justin took his body and buried it in a cave in Agro Verano; upon the spot a famous church was afterwards erected. Indeed, there are innumerable churches dedicated to God in his honor throughout Christendom; almost all the holy Fathers have celebrated his triumph, and Prudentius (Peristeph. hymn. 3.) attributes the conversion of Rome principally to the martyrdom of this great saint. His name has been inserted in the Canon of the Mass.

 

The Liturgical Year

Volume XIII

Time After Pentecost – Book IV

 

Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B.

 

August 10th

 

Saint Lawrence

 

Deacon and Martyr

 

“Once the mother of false gods, but now the bride of Christ, O Rome, it is through Lawrence thou art victorious! Thou hadst conquered haughty monarchs and subjected nations to thine empire; but though thou hadst overcome barbarism, thy glory was incomplete fill thou hadst vanquished the unclean idols. This was Lawrence's victory, a combat bloody yet not tumultuous like those of Camillus or of Caesar; it was the contest of faith, wherein self is immolated, and death is overcome by death. What words, what praises suffice to celebrate such a death? How can I worthily sing so great a martyrdom." (Prudent. Peristephanon., Hymn ii.)

 

Thus opens the sublime poem of Prudentius, composed little more than a century after the Saint's martyrdom. In this work the poet has preserved to us the traditions existing in his own day, whereby the name of the Roman deacon was rendered so illustrious. About the same time St. Ambrose, with his irresistible eloquence, described the meeting of Sixtus and his deacon on the way to martyrdom. (Ambr. De offic. i. 41.) But, before both Ambrose and Prudentius, Pope St. Damasus chronicled the victory of Lawrence's faith, in his majestic monumental inscriptions, which have such a ring of the days of triumph. (Dr Rossi, Inscript. ii. 82.)

 

Rome was lavish in her demonstrations of honour towards the champion who had prayed for her deliverance, upon his red-hot gridiron. She inserted his name in the Canon of the Mass, and moreover celebrated the anniversary of his birth to heaven with as much solemnity as those of the glorious Apostles her founders, and with the same privileges of a Vigil and an Octave. She has been dyed with the blood of many other witnesses of Christ, yet, as though Lawrence had a special claim upon her gratitude, every spot connected with him has been honoured with a Church. Amongst all these sanctuaries dedicated to him, the one which contains the martyr's body ranks next after the churches of St. John Lateran, St. Mary's on the Esquiline, St. Peter's on the Vatican, and St. Paul's on the Ostian Way. St. Lawrence outside the Walls completes the number of the five great basilicas, that form the appanage and exclusive possession of the Roman Pontiff. They represent the patriarchates of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, which divide the world between them, and express the universal and immediate jurisdiction of the Bishops of Rome over all the churches. Thus through Lawrence the eternal City is completed, and is shown to be the centre of the world and the source of every grace.

 

Just as Peter and Paul are the riches, not of Rome alone, but of the whole world, so Lawrence is called the honour of the world, for he, as it were, personified the courage of martyrdom. At the beginning of this month, we saw Stephen himself come to blend his dignity of Protomartyr with the glory of Sixtus II's deacon, by sharing his tomb. In Lawrence, it seemed that both the struggle and the victory of martyrdom reached their highest point; persecution, it is true, was renewed during the next half century, and made many victims, yet his triumph was considered as the death-blow to paganism.

 

"The devil," says Prudentius, "struggled fiercely with God's witness, but he was himself wounded and prostrated forever. The death of Christ's martyr gave the death-blow to the worship of idols, and from that day Vesta was powerless to prevent her temple from being deserted. All these Roman citizens, brought up in the superstitions taught by Numa, hasten, O Christ, to thy courts, singing hymns to thy martyr. Illustrious senators, flamens and priests of Lupercus, venerate the tombs of Apostles and Saints. We see patricians and matrons of the noblest families vowing to God the children in whom their hopes are centered. The Pontiff of the idols, whose brow but yesterday was bound with sacred fillet, now signs himself with the cross, and the Vestal Virgin Claudia visits thy sanctuary, O Lawrence." (Prudent.)

 

It need not surprise us, that this day's solemnity carries its triumphant joy from the city of the seven hills to the entire universe. "As it is impossible for Rome to be concealed," says St Augustine, "so it is equally impossible to hide Lawrence's crown." Everywhere, in both East and West, churches were built in his honour; and in return, as the Bishop of Hippo testifies, "the favours he conferred were innumerable, and prove the greatness of his power with God; who has ever prayed to him and has not been graciously heard?” (Aug. Serm. 303 and 302.)

 

Let us then conclude with St. Maxinius of Turin that, "in the devotion wherewith the triumph of St. "Lawrence is being celebrated throughout the entire "world, we must recognise that it is both holy and "pleasing to God to honour, with all the fervour of "our souls, the birth to heaven of the martyr, who "by his radiant flames has spread the glory of his "victory over the whole Church. Because of the "spotless purity of soul which made him a true "Levite, and because of that fulness of faith which "earned him the martyr's palm, it is fitting that "we should honour him almost equally with the "Apostles." (Maxim, Taurin. Homil. 75 and 74.)

 

 

FIRST VESPERS

 

Lawrence has entered the lists as a martyr, and has confessed the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Such is the Antiphon wherewith the Church opens the first Vespers of the feast; and in fact, by this hour he has already entered the arena; with noble irony he has challenged the authorities, and has even shed his blood.

 

On the very day of the martyrdom of Sixtus II, Cornelius Secularis, (Elenchus, Philocal.) prefect of Rome, summoned Lawrence before his tribunal, but granted him the delay necessary for gathering together the riches required by the imperial treasury. Valerian did not include the obscure members of the Church in his edicts of persecution; he aimed at ruining the Christians by prohibiting their assemblies, putting their chief men to death, and confiscating their property. This accounts for the fact that, on the 6th August, the faithful assembled in the cemetery of Pretextatus were dispersed, the Pontiff executed, and the chief deacon arrested and ordered to deliver up the treasures which the government knew to be in his keeping. "Acknowledge my just and peaceable claims,” said the prefect. “It is said that at your orgies, your priests are accustomed, according to the laws of your worship, to make libations in cups of gold; that silver vessels smoke with the blood of the victims, and that the torches that give light to your nocturnal mysteries are fixed in golden candlesticks. And then you have such love and care for the brotherhood: report says you sell your lands in order to devote to their service thousands of sesterces; so that while the son is disinherited by his holy parents and groans in poverty, his patrimony is piously hidden away in the secrecy of your temples. Bring forth these immense treasures, the shameful spoils you have won by deceiving the credulous; the public good demands them; render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, that he may have wherewith to fill his treasury and pay his armies."

 

Lawrence, untroubled by these words and as if quite willing to obey, gently answered: "I confess you speak the truth; our Church is indeed wealthy; no one in the world, not even Augustus himself, possesses such riches. I will disclose them all to you, and I will show you the treasures of Christ. All I ask for is a short delay, which will enable me the better to perform what I have promised. For I must make an inventory of all, count them up, and value each article."

 

The prefect's heart swelled with joy and gloating over the gold he hoped soon to possess, he granted him a delay of three days. Meanwhile Lawrence hastened all over the town and assembled the legions of poor whom their Mother the Church supported; lame and blind, cripple and beggars, he called them all. None knew them better than the Archdeacon. Next he counted them, wrote down their names, and arranged them in long lines. On the appointed day he returned to the judge and thus addressed him: "Come with me and admire the incomparable riches of the sanctuary of our God." They went together to the spot where the crowds of poor were standing, clothed in rags and filling the air with their supplications. "Why do you shudder?" said Lawrence to the prefect, "do you call that a vile and contemptible spectacle? If you seek after wealth, know that the brightest gold is Christ, who is the light, and the human race redeemed by him; for they are the sons of the light, all these who are shielded by their bodily weakness from the assault of pride and evil passion; soon they will lay aside their ulcers in the palace of eternal life, and will shine in marvellous glory, clothed in purple and bearing golden crowns upon their heads. See here is the gold which I promised you—gold of a kind that fire cannot touch or thief steal from you. Think not then that Christ is poor: behold these choice pearls, these sparkling gems that adorn the temple, these sacred virgins I mean, and these widows who refuse second marriage; they form the priceless necklace of the Church, they deck her brow, they are her bridal ornaments, and win for her Christ's love. Behold then all our riches; take them: they will beautify the city of Romulus, they will increase the Emperor's treasures, and enrich you yourself." (Prudent.)

 

From a letter of Pope St. Cornelius, written a few years after these events, we learn that the number of widows and poor persons that the Church of Rome supported, exceeded 1500. (Cornelius ad Fabium Antioch.) By thus exhibiting them before the magistrate, Lawrence knew that he endangered no one but himself, for the persecution of Valerian, as we have already observed, overlooked the inferior classes and attacked the leading members of the Church. Divine Wisdom thus confronted Caesarism and its brutality with Christianity which it so despised, but which was destined to overcome and subdue it.

 

This happened on the 9th August, 258. The first answer the furious prefect made, was to order Lawrence to be scourged and tortured upon the rack. But these tortures were only a prelude to the great ordeal he was preparing for the noble-hearted Deacon. We learn this tradition from St. Damasus, for he says that, besides the flames, Lawrence triumphed over "blows, tortures, torments, and chains."

 

We have also the authority of the notice inserted by Ado of Vienne in his martyrology in the ninth century, and taken from a still more ancient source. The conformity of expression proves that it was partly from this same source that the Gregorian Antiphonal had already taken the Antiphons and Responsories of the feast.

 

Besides the details which we learn from Prudentius and the Fathers, this Office alludes to the converts Lawrence made while in prison, and to his restoring sight to the blind. This last seems to have been the special gift of the holy deacon during the days preceding his martyrdom.

 

Psalmi {ex Proprio Sanctorum}
Ant. Laurentius * ingressus est Martyr, et confessus est nomen Domini Jesu Christi.
Psalmus 109 [1]
109:1 Dixit Dóminus Dómino meo: * Sede a dextris meis:
109:2 Donec ponam inimícos tuos, * scabéllum pedum tuórum.
109:3 Virgam virtútis tuæ emíttet Dóminus ex Sion: * domináre in médio inimicórum tuórum.
109:4 Tecum princípium in die virtútis tuæ in splendóribus sanctórum: * ex útero ante lucíferum génui te.
109:5 Jurávit Dóminus, et non pœnitébit eum: * Tu es sacérdos in ætérnum secúndum órdinem Melchísedech.
109:6 Dóminus a dextris tuis, * confrégit in die iræ suæ reges.
109:7 Judicábit in natiónibus, implébit ruínas: * conquassábit cápita in terra multórum.
109:8 De torrénte in via bibet: * proptérea exaltábit caput.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.

Ant. Laurentius * ingressus est Martyr, et confessus est nomen Domini Jesu Christi.

Psalms {from the Proper of Saints}
Ant. Lawrence * went in to be a martyr, and acknowledged the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 109 [1]
109:1 The Lord said to my Lord: * Sit thou at my right hand:
109:2 Until I make thy enemies * thy footstool.
109:3 The Lord will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: * rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.
109:4 With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength: in the brightness of the saints: * from the womb before the day star I begot thee.
109:5 The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: * Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.
109:6 The Lord at thy right hand * hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.
109:7 He shall judge among nations, he shall fill ruins: * he shall crush the heads in the land of many.
109:8 He shall drink of the torrent in the way: * therefore shall he lift up the head.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Ant. Lawrence * went in to be a martyr, and acknowledged the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ant. Laurentius * bonum opus operatus est, qui per signum crucis caecos illuminavit.
Psalmus 110 [2]
110:1 Confitebor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * in consílio justórum, et congregatióne.
110:2 Magna ópera Dómini: * exquisíta in omnes voluntátes ejus.
110:3 Conféssio et magnificéntia opus ejus: * et justítia ejus manet in sǽculum sǽculi.
110:4 Memóriam fecit mirabílium suórum, miséricors et miserátor Dóminus: * escam dedit timéntibus se.
110:5 Memor erit in sǽculum testaménti sui: * virtútem óperum suórum annuntiábit pópulo suo:
110:6 Ut det illis hereditátem géntium: * ópera mánuum ejus véritas, et judícium.
110:7 Fidélia ómnia mandáta ejus: confirmáta in sǽculum sǽculi, * facta in veritáte et æquitáte.
110:8 Redemptiónem misit pópulo suo: * mandávit in ætérnum testaméntum suum.
110:9 (fit reverentia) Sanctum, et terríbile nomen ejus: * inítium sapiéntiæ timor Dómini.
110:10 Intelléctus bonus ómnibus faciéntibus eum: * laudátio ejus manet in sǽculum sǽculi.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.

Ant. Laurentius * bonum opus operatus est, qui per signum crucis caecos illuminavit.

Ant. Lawrence wrought a good work, * in that with the sign of the Cross he gave sight to the blind.
Psalm 110 [2]
110:1 I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; * in the council of the just, and in the congregation.
110:2 Great are the works of the Lord: * sought out according to all his wills.
110:3 His work is praise and magnificence: * and his justice continueth for ever and ever.
110:4 He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: * he hath given food to them that fear him.
110:5 He will be mindful for ever of his covenant: * he will shew forth to his people the power of his works.
110:6 That he may give them the inheritance of the Gentiles: * the works of his hands are truth and judgment.
110:7 All his commandments are faithful: confirmed for ever and ever, * made in truth and equity.
110:8 He hath sent redemption to his people: * he hath commanded his covenant for ever.
110:9 (bow head) Holy and terrible is his name: * the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
110:10 A good understanding to all that do it: * his praise continueth for ever and ever.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Ant. Lawrence wrought a good work, * in that with the sign of the Cross he gave sight to the blind.

Ant. Adhaesit * anima mea post te, quia caro mea igne cremata est pro te Deus meus.
Psalmus 111 [3]
111:1 Beátus vir, qui timet Dóminum: * in mandátis ejus volet nimis.
111:2 Potens in terra erit semen ejus: * generátio rectórum benedicétur.
111:3 Glória, et divítiæ in domo ejus: * et justítia ejus manet in sǽculum sǽculi.
111:4 Exórtum est in ténebris lumen rectis: * miséricors, et miserátor, et justus.
111:5 Jucúndus homo qui miserétur et cómmodat, dispónet sermónes suos in judício: * quia in ætérnum non commovébitur.
111:6 In memória ætérna erit justus: * ab auditióne mala non timébit.
111:7 Parátum cor ejus speráre in Dómino, confirmátum est cor ejus: * non commovébitur donec despíciat inimícos suos.
111:8 Dispérsit, dedit paupéribus: justítia ejus manet in sǽculum sǽculi, * cornu ejus exaltábitur in glória.
111:9 Peccátor vidébit, et irascétur, déntibus suis fremet et tabéscet: * desidérium peccatórum períbit.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.

Ant. Adhaesit * anima mea post te, quia caro mea igne cremata est pro te Deus meus.

Ant. O my God, my soul cleaveth * fast after thee, for my flesh hath been burnt with fire for thy sake.
Psalm 111 [3]
111:1 Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: * he shall delight exceedingly in his commandments.
111:2 His seed shall be mighty upon earth: * the generation of the righteous shall be blessed.
111:3 Glory and wealth shall be in his house: * and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
111:4 To the righteous a light is risen up in darkness: * he is merciful, and compassionate and just.
111:5 Acceptable is the man that sheweth mercy and lendeth: he shall order his words with judgment: * because he shall not be moved for ever.
111:6 The just shall be in everlasting remembrance: * he shall not fear the evil hearing.
111:7 His heart is ready to hope in the Lord: his heart is strengthened, * he shall not be moved until he look over his enemies.
111:8 He hath distributed, he hath given to the poor: his justice remaineth for ever and ever: * his horn shall be exalted in glory.
111:9 The wicked shall see, and shall be angry, he shall gnash with his teeth and pine away: * the desire of the wicked shall perish.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Ant. O my God, my soul cleaveth * fast after thee, for my flesh hath been burnt with fire for thy sake.

Ant. Misit Dominus * Angelum suum, et liberavit me de medio ignis, et non sum aestuatus.
Psalmus 112 [4]
112:1 Laudáte, púeri, Dóminum: * laudáte nomen Dómini.
112:2 (fit reverentia) Sit nomen Dómini benedíctum, * ex hoc nunc, et usque in sǽculum.
112:3 A solis ortu usque ad occásum, * laudábile nomen Dómini.
112:4 Excélsus super omnes gentes Dóminus, * et super cælos glória ejus.
112:5 Quis sicut Dóminus, Deus noster, qui in altis hábitat, * et humília réspicit in cælo et in terra?
112:6 Súscitans a terra ínopem, * et de stércore érigens páuperem:
112:7 Ut cóllocet eum cum princípibus, * cum princípibus pópuli sui.
112:8 Qui habitáre facit stérilem in domo, * matrem filiórum lætántem.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.

Ant. Misit Dominus * Angelum suum, et liberavit me de medio ignis, et non sum aestuatus.

Ant. The Lord hath sent His Angel, * and hath delivered me out of the midst of the fire, so that I am not scorched.
Psalm 112 [4]
112:1 Praise the Lord, ye children: * praise ye the name of the Lord.
112:2 (bow head) Blessed be the name of the Lord, * from henceforth now and for ever.
112:3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, * the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.
112:4 The Lord is high above all nations; * and his glory above the heavens.
112:5 Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: * and looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth?
112:6 Raising up the needy from the earth, * and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill:
112:7 That he may place him with princes, * with the princes of his people.
112:8 Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, * the joyful mother of children.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Ant. The Lord hath sent His Angel, * and hath delivered me out of the midst of the fire, so that I am not scorched.

Ant. Beatus Laurentius * orabat, dicens: Gratias tibi ago Domine, quia januas tuas ingredi merui.
Psalmus 115 [5]
115:1 Crédidi, propter quod locútus sum: * ego autem humiliátus sum nimis.
115:2 Ego dixi in excéssu meo: * Omnis homo mendax.
115:3 Quid retríbuam Dómino, * pro ómnibus, quæ retríbuit mihi?
115:4 Cálicem salutáris accípiam: * et nomen Dómini invocábo.
115:5 Vota mea Dómino reddam coram omni pópulo ejus: * pretiósa in conspéctu Dómini mors sanctórum ejus:
115:6 O Dómine, quia ego servus tuus: * ego servus tuus, et fílius ancíllæ tuæ.
115:7 Dirupísti víncula mea: * tibi sacrificábo hóstiam laudis, et nomen Dómini invocábo.
115:8 Vota mea Dómino reddam in conspéctu omnis pópuli ejus: * in átriis domus Dómini, in médio tui, Jerúsalem.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.

Ant. Beatus Laurentius * orabat, dicens: Gratias tibi ago Domine, quia januas tuas ingredi merui.

Ant. The blessed Lawrence prayed * and said I give thee thanks, O Lord, that Thou hast made me worthy to enter within thy gates
Psalm 115 [5]
115:1 I have believed, therefore have I spoken; * but I have been humbled exceedingly.
115:2 I said in my excess: * Every man is a liar.
115:3 What shall I render to the Lord, * for all the things that he hath rendered to me?
115:4 I will take the chalice of salvation; * and I will call upon the name of the Lord.
115:5 I will pay my vows to the Lord before all his people: * precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.
115:6 O Lord, for I am thy servant: * I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid.
115:7 Thou hast broken my bonds: * I will sacrifice to thee the sacrifice of praise, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.
115:8 I will pay my vows to the Lord in the sight of all his people: * in the courts of the house of the Lord, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Ant. The blessed Lawrence prayed * and said I give thee thanks, O Lord, that Thou hast made me worthy to enter within thy gates

Capitulum Hymnus Versus {ex Proprio Sanctorum}
2 Cor 9:6
Fratres: Qui parce seminat, parce et metet: et qui seminat in benedictionibus, de benedictionibus et metet.
R. Deo grátias.

Hymnus
Deus tuórum mílitum
Sors, et córona, prǽmium,
Laudes canéntes Mártyris
Absólve nexu críminis.

Hic nempe mundi gáudia,
Et blanda fraudum pábula
Imbúta felle députans,
Pervénit ad cæléstia.

Pœnas cucúrrit fórtiter,
Et sústulit viríliter,
Fundénsque pro te sánguinem,
Ætérna dona póssidet.

Ob hoc precátu súpplici
Te póscimus, piíssime;
In hoc triúmpho Mártyris
Dimítte noxam sérvulis.

* Laus et perénnis glória
Patri sit, atque Fílio,
Sancto simul Paráclito,
In sempitérna sǽcula.
Amen.

V. Glória et honóre coronásti eum, Dómine.
R. Et constituísti eum super ópera mánuum tuárum.

Chapter Hymn Verse {from the Proper of Saints}
2 Cor 9:6
Brethren: He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
R. Thanks be to God.

Hymn
O God, of those that fought thy fight,
Portion, and prize, and crown of light,
Break every bond of sin and shame
As now we praise thy martyr's name.

He recked not of the world's allure,
But sin and pomp of sin forswore:
Knew all their gall, and passed them by,
And reached the throne prepared on high.

Bravely the course of pain he ran,
And bare his torments as a man:
For love of thee his blood outpoured,
And thus obtained the great reward.

With humble voice and suppliant word
We pray thee therefore, holy Lord,
While we thy martyr's feast-day keep,
Forgive thy loved and erring sheep.

* Glory and praise for aye be done
To God the Father, and the Son,
And Holy Ghost, who reign on high,
One God, to all eternity.
Amen.

V. Thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, O Lord.
R. And madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands.

Canticum Magnificat {Antiphona ex Proprio Sanctorum}
Ant. Levita Laurentius * bonum opus operatus est, qui per signum crucis caecos illuminavit, et thesauros Ecclesiae dedit pauperibus.
(Canticum B. Mariæ Virginis * Luc. 1:46-55)
1:46 Magníficat ✝ * ánima mea Dóminum.
1:47 Et exsultávit spíritus meus: * in Deo, salutári meo.
1:48 Quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllæ suæ: * ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes.
1:49 Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est: * et sanctum nomen ejus.
1:50 Et misericórdia ejus, a progénie in progénies: * timéntibus eum.
1:51 Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo: * dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui.
1:52 Depósuit poténtes de sede: * et exaltávit húmiles.
1:53 Esuriéntes implévit bonis: * et dívites dimísit inánes.
1:54 Suscépit Israël púerum suum: * recordátus misericórdiæ suæ.
1:55 Sicut locútus est ad patres nostros: * Ábraham, et sémini ejus in sǽcula.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.
Ant. Levita Laurentius * bonum opus operatus est, qui per signum crucis caecos illuminavit, et thesauros Ecclesiae dedit pauperibus.

Canticum Magnificat {Antiphona from the Proper of Saints}
Ant. Lawrence the Deacon * performed a pious act by giving sight to the blind through the Sign of the Cross, and by bestowing on the poor the riches of the Church.
(Canticle of the Blessed Virgin * Luke 1:46-55)
1:46 My soul ✝ * doth magnify the Lord.
1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced * in God my Saviour.
1:48 Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; * for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
1:49 Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; * and holy is his name.
1:50 And his mercy is from generation unto generations, * to them that fear him.
1:51 He hath shewed might in his arm: * he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
1:52 He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble.
1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; * and the rich he hath sent empty away.
1:54 He hath received Israel his servant, * being mindful of his mercy:
1:55 As he spoke to our fathers, * to Abraham and to his seed for ever.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Ant. Lawrence the Deacon * performed a pious act by giving sight to the blind through the Sign of the Cross, and by bestowing on the poor the riches of the Church.

Collect
Orémus
Da nobis, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus: vitiorum nostrorum flammas exstinguere; qui beato Laurentio tribuisti tormentorum suorum incendia superare.
Per Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sǽcula sæculórum. R. Amen.


Let us pray.
O Almighty God, Who didst give unto Blessed Lawrence power to be more than conqueror in his fiery torment, grant unto us, we beseech thee, the power to quench the flames of our sinful lusts.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.

 

 

 

The August sun has set behind the Vatican, and the life and animation, which his burning heat had stilled for a time, begins once more upon the seven hills. Lawrence was taken down from the rack about mid-day. In his prison, however, he took no rest, but wounded and bleeding as he was, he baptized the converts won to Christ by the sight of his courageous suffering. He confirmed their faith, and fired their souls with a martyr's intrepidity. When the evening hour summoned Rome to its pleasures, the prefect re-called the executioners to their work; for a few hours' rest had sufficiently restored their energy to enable them to satisfy his cruelty.

 

Surrounded by this ill-favoured company, the prefect thus addressed the valiant deacon: "Sacrifice to the gods, or else the whole night long shall be witness of your torments." "My night has no darkness," answered Lawrence, "and all things are full of light to me." They struck him on the mouth with stones, but he smiled and said: "I give thee thanks, O Christ."

 

Then an iron bed or gridiron with three bars was brought in and the Saint was stripped of his garments and extended upon it while burning coals were placed beneath it. As they were holding him down with iron forks, Lawrence said: "I offer myself as a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness." The executioners continually stirred up the fire and brought fresh coals, while they still held him down with their forks. Then the Saint said: "Learn, unhappy man, how great is the power of my God; for your burning coals give me refreshment, but they will be your eternal punishment. I call thee, O Lord, to witness: when I was accused, I did not deny thee; when I was questioned, I confessed thee, O Christ; on the red-hot coals I gave thee thanks." And with his countenance radiant with heavenly beauty, he continued: "Yea, I give thee thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ, for that thou hast deigned to strengthen me." He then raised his eyes to his judge, and said: "See, this side is well roasted; turn me on the other and eat." Then continuing his canticle of praise to God: "I give thee thanks, O Lord, that I have merited to enter into thy dwelling-place." (Adon. Martyrol.) As he was on the point of death, he remembered the Church. The thought of the eternal Rome gave him fresh strength, and he breathed forth this ecstatic prayer: "O Christ, only God, O Splendour, O Power of the Father, O Maker of heaven and earth and builder of this city's walls! Thou hast placed Rome's scepter high over all; thou hast willed to subject the world to it, in order to unite under one law the nations which differ in manners, customs, language, genius, and sacrifice. Behold the whole human race has submitted to its empire, and all discord and dissensions disappear in its unity. Remember thy purpose: thou didst will to bind the immense universe together into one Christian Kingdom. O Christ, for the sake of thy Romans, make this city Christian; for to it thou gavest the charge of leading all the rest to sacred unity. All its members in every place are united,—a very type of thy Kingdom; the conquered universe has bowed before it. Oh! may its royal head be bowed in turn! Send thy Gabriel and bid him heal the blindness of the sons of Julus that they may know the true God. I see a prince who is to come—an Emperor who is a servant of God. He will not suffer Rome to remain a slave; he will close the temples and fasten them with bolts forever."

 

Thus he prayed, and with these last words he breathed forth his soul. Some noble Romans who had been conquered to Christ by the martyr's admirable boldness, removed his body: the love of the Most High God had suddenly filled their hearts and dispelled their former errors. From that day the worship of the infamous gods grew cold; few people went now to the temples, but hastened to the altars of Christ. Thus Lawrence, going unarmed to the battle, had wounded the enemy with his own sword. (Prudent.)

 

The Church, which is always grateful in proportion to the service rendered her, could not forget this glorious night. At the period when her children's piety vied with her own, she used to summon them together at sunset on the evening of the 9th August for a first Night-Office. At midnight the second Matins began, followed by the first Mass called "of the night or of the early morning."(De nocte, in primo mane: Sacramentar. Greg. apud H. Menard.) Thus the Christians watched around the holy deacon during the hours of his glorious combat. "O God, thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night, thou hast tried me by fire, and iniquity hath not been found in me. Hear, O Lord, my justice; attend to my supplication." (Introit, ex Ps. xvi.: Antiphona apud Tommasi.) Such is the grand Introit which immediately after the night Vigils, hallowed the dawn of the 10th August, at the very moment when Lawrence entered the eternal sanctuary to fulfill his office at the heavenly altar.

 

Later on certain churches observed on this feast a custom similar to one in use at the Matins of the commemoration of St. Paul; it consisted in reciting a particular Versicle before repeating each Antiphon of the Nocturns. The Doctors of the sacred Liturgy tell us that the remarkable labours of the Doctor of the Gentiles and those of St. Lawrence earned for them this distinction. (Beleth. cxlv. ; Sicard. ix., xxxix.; Durand. Vii., xxiii. PENT. IV.)

 

Our forefathers were greatly struck by the contrast between the endurance of the holy deacon under his cruel tortures and his tender-hearted, tearful parting with Sixtus II., three days before. On this account, they gave to the periodical showers of "falling stars," which occur about the 10th August, the graceful name of St. Lawrence's tears: a touching instance of that popular piety which delights in raising the heart to God through the medium of natural phenomena.

 

 

MASS

 

The deacon has followed his Pontiff beyond the veil; the faithful Levite is standing beside the ark of the eternal covenant. He now gazes on the splendour of that tabernacle not made with hands, feebly figured by that of Moses, and but partially revealed by the Church herself.

 

And yet to-day, though still an exile, Mother Church thrills with a holy pride, for she has added something to the glory and the sanctity of heaven. She triumphantly advances to the altar on earth, which is one with that in heaven. Throughout the night she has had her eyes and her heart fixed on her noble son; and now she dares to sing of the beauty, the holiness, the magnificence of our fatherland, as though they were already hers; for the rays of eternal light seem to have fallen upon her as the veil lifted to admit Lawrence into the Holy of Holies.

 

The Introit and its verse are taken from Psalm xcv.:

 

Introitus
Ps 95:6.
Conféssio et pulchritúdo in conspéctu eius: sánctitas et magnificéntia in sanctificatióne eius.
Ps 95:1
Cantáte Dómino cánticum novum: cantáte Dómino, omnis terra.
V. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculórum. Amen
Conféssio et pulchritúdo in conspéctu eius: sánctitas et magnificéntia in sanctificatióne eius.

Introitus
Ps 95:6
Splendor and majesty go before Him; praise and grandeur are in His sanctuary.
Ps 95:1
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Splendor and majesty go before Him; praise and grandeur are in His sanctuary.

No doubt our weakness will not be called upon to endure the ordeal of a red-hot gridiron; nevertheless, we are tried by flames of a different kind, which, if we do not extinguish them in this life, will feed the eternal fire of hell. The Church, therefore, asks on this feast of St. Lawrence that we may be gifted with prudence and courage.

Oratio
Orémus.
Da nobis, quaesumus, omnípotens Deus: vitiórum nostrorum flammas exstínguere; qui beáto Lauréntio tribuísti tormentórum suórum incéndia superáre.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

Collect
Let us pray.
Grant us, we beseech You, almighty God, to extinguish the flames of our sins, as You granted St. Lawrence to overcome the fires of his tortures.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Lectio
Léctio Epístolæ beáti Pauli Apóstoli ad Corinthios.
2 Cor 9:6-10.
Fratres: Qui parce séminat, parce et metet: et qui séminat in benedictiónibus, de benedictiónibus et metet. Unusquísque prout destinávit in corde suo, non ex tristítia aut ex necessitáte: hilárem enim datórem díligit Deus. Potens est autem Deus omnem grátiam abundáre fácere in vobis, ut, in ómnibus semper omnem sufficiéntiam habéntes, abundétis in omne opus bonum, sicut scriptum est: Dispérsit, dedit paupéribus: iustítia eius manet in saeculum saeculi. Qui autem admínistrat semen seminánti: et panem ad manducándum præstábit, et multiplicábit semen vestrum, et augébit increménta frugum iustítiæ vestræ.
R. Deo gratias.

Lesson
Lesson from the second letter of St Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians
2 Cor. 9:6-10
Brethren: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let each one give according as he has determined in his heart, not grudgingly or from compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that always having ample means, you may abound in every good work, as it is written, He has scattered abroad and has given to the poor, his justice remains forever. Now He Who provides the sower will seed will both give you bread to eat and will multiply your seed, and will increase the growth of the fruits of your justice.
R. Thanks be to God.

He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor: his justice remaineth for ever. The Roman Church loves to repeat these words of Psalm cxi. in honour of her great archdeacon. Yesterday she sang them in the Introit and Gradual of the Vigil; again they were heard last night in the Responsories, and this morning in the Versicle of her triumphant Lauds. Indeed, the Epistle we have just read, which also furnishes the Little Chapters for the several Hours, was selected for to-day because of this same text being therein quoted by the Apostle. Evidently the choice graces which won for Lawrence his glorious martyrdom were, in the Church's estimation, the outcome of the brave and cheerful fidelity wherewith he distributed to the poor the treasures in his keeping. He who soioeth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly; and he who soiveth in blessings, shall also reap of blessings; such is the supernatural economy of the Holy Ghost in the distribution of his gifts, as exemplified in the glorious scenes we have witnessed during these three days.

 

We may add with the Apostle: What touches the heart of God, and moves him to multiply his favours, is not so much the work itself as the spirit that prompts it. God loveth a cheerful giver. Nobleearted, tender, devoted, and self-forgetful, heroic with a heroism born of simplicity no less than of courage, gracious and smiling even on his gridiron: such was Lawrence towards God, towards his father Sixtus II., towards the lowly; and the same he was towards the powerful and in the very face of death. The closing of his life did but prove that he was as faithful in great things as he had been in small. Seldom are nature and grace so perfectly in harmony as they were in the young deacon, and though the gift of martyrdom is so great that no one can merit it, yet his particularly glorious martyrdom seems to have been the development, as if by natural evolution, of the precious germs planted by the Holy Ghost in the rich soil of his noble nature.

 

The words of Psalm xvi., which formerly composed the Introit of the Mass of the night, are repeated in the Gradual of the morning Mass. The Alleluia Verse reminds us of the miracles wrought by St. Lawrence upon the blind; let us ask him to cure our spiritual blindness, which is more terrible than that of the body.

Graduale
Ps 16:3.
Probásti, Dómine, cor meum, et visitásti nocte.
V. Igne me examinásti, et non est invénta in me iníquitas. Allelúia, allelúia.
V. Levíta Lauréntius bonum opus operátus est: qui per signum crucis coecos illuminávit. Allelúia.

Gradual
Ps 16:3
Though You test my heart, O Lord, searching it in the night.
V. Through You try me with fire, You shall find no malice in me. Alleluia, alleluia.
V. The Levite Lawrence wrought a good work, who by the sign of the Cross, gave sight to the blind. Alleluia.

Evangelium
Sequéntia ✝ sancti Evangélii secúndum Ioánnem.
R. Gloria tibi, Domine!
Ioann 12:24-26
In illo témpore: Dixit Iesus discípulis suis: Amen, amen, dico vobis, nisi granum fruménti cadens in terram, mórtuum fúerit, ipsum solum manet: si autem mórtuum fúerit, multum fructum affert. Qui amat ánimam suam, perdet eam: et qui odit ánimam suam in hoc mundo, in vitam ætérnam custódit eam. Si quis mihi mínistrat, me sequátur: et ubi sum ego, illic et miníster meus erit. Si quis mihi ministráverit, honorificábit eum Pater meus.
R. Laus tibi, Christe!
S. Per Evangelica dicta, deleantur nostra delicta.

Gospel
Continuation ☩ of the Holy Gospel according to John
R. Glory be to Thee, O Lord.
John 12:24-26
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, Amen, amen, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. He who loves his life, loses it; and he who hates his life in this world, keeps it unto life everlasting. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am there also shall My servant be. If anyone serves me, My Father will honor him.
R. Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
S. By the words of the Gospel may our sins be blotted out.

The Gospel we have just read was thus commented by St Augustine on this very feast: "Your faith recognises the grain that fell into the earth, and, having died, was multiplied. Your faith, I say, recognises this grain, for the same dwelleth in your souls." That it was concerning himself Christ spake these words no Christian doubts. But now that that seed is dead and has been multiplied, many grains have been sown in the earth; among them is the blessed Lawrence, and this is the day of his sowing. What an abundant harvest has sprung from these grains scattered over all the earth! We see it, we rejoice in it, nay, we ourselves are the harvest; if so be, by his grace, we belong to the granary. For not all that grows in the field belongs to the granary. The same useful, nourishing rain feeds both the wheat and the chaff. God forbid that both should be laid up together in the granary; although they grew together in the field, and were threshed together in the threshing floor.

 

Now is the time to choose. Let us now, before the winnowiDg, separate ourselves from the wicked by our manner of life, as in the floor the grain is tbreshed out of the chaff, though not yet separated from it by the final winnowing. Hear me, ye holy grains, who, I doubt not, are here; for if I doubted, I should not be a grain myself: hear me, I say; or rather, hear that first grain speaking by me. Love not your life in this world: love it not if you truly love it, so that by not loving you may preserve it; for by not loving, you love the more. He that loveth his life in this world, shall lose it. (Aug. Sermo cccv. Al. xxvi., in Nat. S. Laurent.)

 

Thus because Lawrence was as an enemy to himself and lost his life in this world, he found it in the next. Being a minister of Christ by his very title, for deacon means minister, he followed the Man-God, as the Gospel exhorts; he followed him to the altar, and to the altar of the Cross. Having fallen with him into the earth, he has been multiplied in him. Though separated from St. Lawrence y distance of time and place, yet we are, ourselves, as the Bishop of Hippo teaches, a part of the harvest that is ever springing from him. Let this thought excite us to gratitude towards the holy deacon; and let us all the more eagerly unite our homage with the honour bestowed on him by our heavenly Father, for having ministered to his Son.

 

The Offertory repeats the words of the Introit to a different melody; it is earth's echo to the music of heaven. The. beauty and sanctity that so magnificently enhance the worship of praise around the eternal altar ought to shine by faith in the souls of the Church's ministers, as the Angels beheld them shining in Lawrence's soul while he was still on earth.

Offertorium
Ps 95:6
Conféssio et pulchritúdo in conspéctu eius: sánctitas, et magnificéntia in sanctificatióne eius.

Offertorium
Ps 95:6
Splendor and majesty go before Him; praise and grandeur are in His sanctuary.

At this point of the Mysteries it was once Lawrence's duty to present the offerings; the Church, while now presenting them, claims the suffrage of his merits.

Secreta
Accipe, quaesumus, Dómine, múnera dignánter obláta: et, beáti Lauréntii suffragántibus méritis, ad nostræ salútis auxílium proveníre concéde.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

Secreta
Receive, we beseech You, O Lord, the gifts fully offered to You, and, by the interceding merits of blessed Lawrence, Your Martyr, grant they may further our salvation.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
R. Amen.

Lawrence worthily fulfilled his august ministry at the Table of his Lord; and he, to whom he thus devoted himself, keeps his promise made in the Gospel, by calling him to live for ever where he is himself.

Communio
Ioann 12:26.
Qui mihi mínistrat, me sequátur: et ubi ego sum, illic et miníster meus erit.

Communio
John 12:26
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am there also shall My servant be.

After feasting at the sacred banquet of which Lawrence was once the dispenser, we beg that the homage of our own service may draw down upon us, through his intercession, an increase of grace.

Postcommunio
Orémus.
Sacro múnere satiáti, súpplices te, Dómine, deprecámur: ut, quod débitæ servitútis celebrámus offício, intercedénte beáto Lauréntio Mártyre tuo, salvatiónis tuæ sentiámus augméntum.
Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum, Filium tuum: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.

Postcommunio
Let us pray.
Filled with Your sacred gifts, we humbly pray You, O Lord, that as we perform this sacred act in duty bound, we may enjoy an increase of Your saving grace.
Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.  R. Amen.

 

 

 

SECOND VESPERS

 

This morning, as soon as Lawrence had given up his brave soul to his Creator, his body was taken, like precious gold from the crucible, and wrapt in linen cloths with sweet spices. As in the case of Stephen the protomartyr, and of Jesus the King of martyrs, so now, too, noble persons vied with each other in paying honour to the sacred remains. In the evening of the 10th August, (Adon. Martyrolog.) the noble converts mentioned by Prudentius bowed their heads beneath the venerable burden; and followed by a great company of mourners, they carried him along the Tiburtian Way, and buried him in the cemetery of Cyriacus. The Church on earth mourned for her illustrious son; but the Church in heaven was already overflowing with joy, and each anniversary of the glorious triumph was to give fresh gladness to the world.

 

The Office of Second Vespers is the same as that of the First, except for the last Psalm, the Versicle, and the Magnificat Antiphon. This Psalm, which the Church sings for all her Martyrs, is the 115th. It admirably expresses Lawrence's exulting gratitude: his confession of faith was the cause of his triumph over suffering and over snares; he filled with his own blood the chalice committed to his care, thus proving himself a true deacon, a minister of God's altar, and a son of the Church, the handmaid of the Lord. And now that his bonds are broken, he has begun his everlasting service in the company of the Saints, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.

 

ANTIPHON OF THE MAGNIFICAT

Ant. Beatus Laurentius dum in craticula superpositus ureretur, ad impiissimum tyrannum dixit: Assatum est iam, versa, et manduca: nam facultates Ecclesiae, quas requiris, in caelestes thesauros manus pauperum deportaverunt.

Ant. When the blessed Lawrence was lying, stretched upon the bars, and burning, he said to the iniquitous magistrate: The cooking is done enough now, turn the meat and eat; for the property of the Church, which thou seekest, hath been garnered up in heaven by the hands of the poor.

 

 

The Greeks in their Menaea echo the homage paid by the West to the conqueror.

 

MENSIS AUGUSTI DIE X

 

In Matutino

 

The deacon of the Word, adorned with the beauty of the Word, freely lays down his life for love of the Word, and justly now he reigneth with the Word, inebriated with his joy and glory.

 

Strengthened with the armour of truth and of piety against the wicked contradictions of the erring, thou by thy faith and thy wise words hast destroyed for ever the stronghold of falsehood.

 

With thine eyes fixed, O Lawrence, on the beauty of God, thou didst contemn alike the flatteries of the world and its torments, O hero, worthy of admiration!

 

Christ, the true deacon who dispenses to us the gifts of the Father, had revealed himself to thee; and thou, longing to be his own deacon, didst go to him by the path of love, O thou who art truly to be envied!

 

Like an auspicious sun, rising in the West by a prodigy exceeding wonderful, thou hast enlightened the whole Church with thy brilliant light, O admirable martyr, and all mankind have received warmth from the ardour of thy faith: therefore do we all glorify thee.

 

Diaconus Verbi, Verbo decorus, vitam amore Verbi sponte litat, et cum Verbo jure nunc regnat, ipsius laetitia gloriaque inebriatus.

 

Contra errantium impias redargutiones, veritatis pietatisque armatura firmatus, falsitatis munimentum fide tua dictisque ex sententia evertisti in finem.

 

In Dei pulchritudine, Laurenti, fixus oculos, terras blanditias necnon et cruciatus contempsisti, o admirande.

 

Christus quum diaconus seu minister nobis donorum quae sunt ex Patre tibi innotuisset, diaconus illius et ipse fieri cupiens, per sanguinem ad ipsum commigrasti, o invidende.

 

Tamquam sol felix ab Occidente oriens, stupendam et admirabile valde, universam coruscationibus illustrasti Ecclesiam, o admirande, cunctique ardore fidei tuae calefacti sunt: ideo te omnes glorificamus.

 

Let us seek from the ancient Liturgies their tribute of praise to the holy Martyr. The Leonian Sacramentary offers us this Preface, which in its noble brevity expresses in all their freshness the feelings of the Church towards her glorious son: "Perfectis gaudiis expleatur oblatio . . . Gratias tibi, Domine, quoniam sanctum Laurentium Martyrem tuum, te inspirante diligimus: May our offering be made with perfect joy . . . We give thanks to thee, O Lord, that, by thy inspiration, we love thy holy Martyr Lawrence." Such is the character of the formulae which precede and follow, in the Holy Sacrifice, the words we here give:

 

PREFACE.

 

Vere dignum. Tuam mi- sericordiam deprecantes, ut mentibus nostris beati Laurentii Martyris tui tribuas jugiter suavitatem, qua et nos amemus ejus meritum passionis, et indulgentiam nobis semper fidelis ille Patronus obtineat.

It is truly right and just to glorify thee, O God, beseeching thy mercy, that thou wouldst ever bestow upon our souls the sweetness of thy blessed Martyr Lawrence, whereby we may love the re ward of his passion, and he, as an ever-faithful patron, may obtain pardon for us.

 

The so-called Gothic Missal, which represents, as we know, the Liturgy of the Churches of France before Pepin and Charlemagne, is to-day in full harmony with the sentiments of the Mother Church.

 

MISSA S. LAURENTI, MART.

 

Deus, fidelium tuorum SaJvator et rector, omnipotens sempiterne Deus, adesto votis solemnitatis hodiernae; et Ecclesiae gaudiis de gloriosa Martyris tui passione beati Laurenti conceptis, benignus adspira: augeatur omnium fides tantae virtutis ortu; et corda laetantium supplicio Martyrum igniantur: ut apud misericordiam tuam illius juvemur merito, cujus exsultamus exemplo. Per Dominum.

 

O God, the Saviour and guide of thy faithful, Almighty, eternal God, be propitious to our prayers on this day of solemnity, and lovingly favour the joys conceived by the Church for the glorious passion of thy blessed Martyr Lawrence: may the faith of all be increased by the appearance of such great virtue; and may the hearts of all who rejoice be kindled by the suffering of the martyrs: that in presence of thy mercy we may be aided by his merit, at whose example we exult. Through our Lord, &c.

 

 

Immolatio Missae

 

Vere dignum et justum est, omnipotens sempiterne Deus, tibi in tanti Martyris Laurenti laudis hostias; immolare: qui hostiam viventem hodie in ipsius Levitae tui beati Laurenti Martyris ministerio per florem casti corporis accepisti. Cujus vocem per hymnidicum modolamini Psalmi audivimus canentis atque dicentis: Probasti cor meum, Deus, et visitasti noctem, id est in tenebris saeculi: igne me examinasti; et non est inventa in me iniquitas. O gloriosa certaininis virtus! o inconcussa constantia confitentis! Stridunt membra viventis super craticulum imposita, et prunis saevientibus anhelantis, incensum suum in moduin thymiamatis divinis naribus exhibent odorem. Dicit enim Martyr ipse cum Paulo: Ohristi bonus odor sumus Deo. Non enim cogitabat quomodo in terra positus, a passionis periculo liberaretur, sed quomodo inter Martyres in ccelis coronaretur. Per Christum.

It is truly right and just, O Almighty, eternal God, to offer, on the solemnity of the great Martyr Lawrence, sacrifices of praise to thee: who this day, by the ministry of the same Martyr Lawrence, thy blessed Levite, didst receive as a living holocaust the flower of his chaste body. We have heard his voice, attuned to the harmony of the melodious Psalm, singing and saying: "Thou hast proved my "heart, 0 God, and visited it "by night, that is, in the "darkness of this world; thou "hast tried me by fire, and "iniquity hath not been found "in me." O glorious valour iu the strife! O unshaken constancy of the confessor! His limbs are stretched and hiss upon the gridiron, while yet he lives, and gasping, breathes the fiery heat of the burning coals; and they send up their smoke like incense, a sweet odour to God. For the Martyr himself said with Paul: "We are the good odour "of Christ to God." For he thought not how on earth he might escape the danger of suffering, but how in heaven he would be crowned among the martyrs. Through Christ our Lord.

 

From the Mozarabic Liturgy we will take but one prayer for to-day:

 

CAPITULA

 

Domine Jesu Christe, qui beatissimum Laurentium igne charitatis tu% ardentem, et cupiditatum et passionum incendia fecisti evincere: dum et aurum calcat et flammam, et in pauperum erogationem munificus et in combustionem suis corporis reperitur devotus; da nobis obtentu suffragii illius, ut vapore Spiritus Sancti accensi flammas superemus libidinis, et igne concrememur omnimodae sanctitatis: quo inter Sanctos illos sors nostra inveniatur post transitum, pro quibus nunc tibi dependlmus famulatum.

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst enable the most blessed Lawrence, burning with the fire of thy charity, to overcome the heat both of passions and of sufferings: for he trampled alike both on gold and the fire, and was found liberal in giving to the poor, and faithful in the burning of his body; grant us, through his intercession, that being kindled by the breath of the Holy Spirit, we may overcome the flames of concupiscence and may be consumed by the fire of all sanctity: so that after our passage through this life, our lot may be found among those saints for whom we now offer thee our homage.

 

Adam of St. Victor shall crown the day with one of his admirable sequences:

 

SEQUENCE

 

Prunis datum

Admiremur,

Laureatum,

Veneremur
Laudibus Laurentium;

Veneremur

Cum tremore,

Deprecemur

Cum amore Martyrem egregium.

 

Accusatus

Non negavit;

Sed pulsatus

Resultavit
In tubis ductilibus,

Cum in poenis

Voto plenis

Exsultaret

Et sonaret
In divinis laudibus.

 

Sicut chorda musicorum
Tandem sonum dat sonorum

Plectri ministerio; Sic, in chely tormentorum, Melos Christi confessorum

Dedit hujus tensio.

 

Deci, vide

Quia fide

Stat invictu

Inter ictus, Minas et incendia:

Spes interna,

Vox superna

Consolantur

Et hortantur Virum de constantia.

 

Nam thesauros quos exquiris

Per tormenta non acquiris
Tibi, sed Laurentio.

Hos in Christo coacervat, Hujus pugna Christus servat,

Triumphantis praemio.

 

Nescit sancti nox obscurum, Ut in pcenis quid impurum

Fide tractet dubia; Neque caecis lumen daret, Si non eum radiaret

Luminis praesentia.

 

Fidei confessio
Lucet in Laurentio:
Non ponit sub modio,
Statuit in medio
Lumen coram omnibus.
Juvat Dei famulum
Crucis suae bajulum,
Assum quasi ferculum,
Fieri spectaculum
Angelis et gentibus.

 

Non abhorret prunis volvi,
Qui de carne cupit solvi

Et cum Christo vivere, Neque timet occidentes Corpus, sed non praevalentes

Animam occidere.

 

Sicut vasa figulorum
Probat fornax, et eorum

Solidat substantiam,
Sic et ignis hunc assatum
Velut testam solidatum
Eeddit per constantiam.

 

Nam cum vetus corrumpatur,

Alter homo renovatur
Veteris incendio;
Unde nimis confortatus
Est athletae principatus
In Dei servitio.

 

Hunc ardorem

Factum foris

Putat rorem

Vis amoris
Et zelus Justitiae;

Ignis urens,

Non comburens,

Vincit prunas

Quas adunas,

O minister impie.

 

Parum sapis

Vim sinapis,

Si non tangis,

Si non frangis;

Et plus fragrat

Quando flagrat
Thus injectum ignibus.

Sic arctatus

Et assatus,

Sub labore,

Sub ardore,

Dat odorem

Pleniorem
Martyr de virtutibus.

 

O Laurenti, laute nimis,
Rege victo rex sublimis,
Regis regum fortis miles,
Qui duxisti poenas viles

Certans pro Justitia;
Qui tot mala devicisti
Contemplando bona Christi,
Fac nos malis insultare,
Fac de bonis exsultare

Meritorum gratia. Amen.

Let us admire Lawrence laid upon hot coals: let us with praises honour the laurel crowned: let us reverence with trembling, and beseech with love, this illustrious martyr.

Being accused, he did not deny; but being struck he answered back with a longsounding trumpet, when in his wished-for sufferings he exulted and sounded forth the divine praises.

As the musical chord struck with the plectrum gives forth its loud melody, so he, stretched on the lyre of the torture, sounded the strain of the confessors of Christ.

See, O Decius, how he stands invincible in faith, amid the blows, and threats, and flames: hope within, and a voice from above, console him and exhort him to constancy.

 

For the treasures which thou seekest are not gotten to thee by the torments, but to Lawrence. He gathers them in Christ, and for his combat Christ keeps them for him as the reward of his triumph.

 

To the holy one the night knows no darkness, nor in his sufferings is he defiled by wavering faith; for he could not have given light to the blind, had not the light been present shining upon him.

 

The confession of faith shines bright in Lawrence: he hides not the light beneath a bushel, but sets it in the midst before all. It is pleasant to the servant of God, the bearer of his Cross, to be roasted as food, to be made a spectacle to Angels and to the nations.

 

He shrinks not from being turned upon the coals, who desires to be delivered from the flesh, and to live with Christ; nor fears he them that slay the body, but are not able to hurt the soul.

 

As the furnace proves the potter's vessels, and hardenstheir substance, so does the fire, roasting him, make him firm by constancy like the fired clay.

 

For when the old man is destroyed, the other is renewed in the burning of the old; hence the power of the combatant is exceedingly strengthened in the service of God.

 

Through the strength of his love and his zeal for Justice he deems this outward heat but dew; the fire that burns but not consumes, outdoes thy heaped-up coals, O impious minister.

 

Thou knowest not the virtue of the mustard-seed, unless thou touch it, unless thou crush it; and more fragrant is the incense when it smokes upon the fire; even so, the martyr, oppressed and burned with suffering and with heat, exhales more fully the fragrance of his virtue.

 

O Lawrence exceedingly honourable, having conquered a king, thou hast become an eminent king, thou, brave soldier of the King of kings, who didst make small account of sufferings when fighting for Justice; thou who didst overcome so many evils by contemplating the good things of Christ, make us by the grace of thy merits, spurn evil and rejoice in good.

Amen.

 

 

 

"Thrice blessed are the Roman people, for they honour thee on the very spot where thy sacred bones repose! They prostrate in thy sanctuary, and watering the ground with their tears they pour out their vows. We who are distant from Rome, separated by Alps and Pyrenees, how can we even imagine what treasures she possesses, or how rich is her earth in sacred tombs? We have not her privileges, we cannot trace the martyrs' bloody footsteps; but from afar we gaze on the heavens. O holy Lawrence! it is there we seek the memorial of thy passion; for thou hast two dwelling-places, that of thy body on earth and that of thy soul in heaven. In the ineffable heavenly city thou hast been received to citizenship, and the civic crown adorns thy brow in its eternal Senate. So brightly shine thy jewels that it seemeth the heavenly Rome hath chosen thee perpetual Consul. The joy of the Quirites proves how great is thine office, thine influence, and thy power, for thou grantest their requests. Thou hearest all who pray to thee, they ask what they will and none ever goes away sad. 

 

“Ever assist thy children of the queen city; give them the strong support of thy fatherly love, and a mother's tender, fostering care. Together with them, O thou honour of Christ, listen to thy humble client confessing his misery and sins. I acknowledge that I am not worthy that Christ should hear me; but through the patronage of the holy Martyrs, my evils can be remedied. Hearken to thy suppliant; in thy goodness free me from the fetters of the flesh and of the world." (Prudent.)

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *