13 March 2014

The station of Saint Lawrence

Pilgrims in the Eternal City made their way this morning to the same part of Rome where they gathered yesterday morning, whereas yesterday they gathered in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore for the Lenten station Mass, today they gathered in the church of San Lorenzo in Panisperna. Entering the complex requires you to ascend a set of stairs, at the top of which you behold the church:

The courtyard, like the church, is not very large but is pleasant, but does not much indication a saint was once killed here:

The present church, built over the place where Saint Lawrence met his death, has been restored several times over the centuries, most recently in 1575.

A native of Spain, Saint Lawrence was called to Rome by Pope Saint Sixtus II, who had met him some time before and knew of his abilities. It was Pope Sixtus who ordained Lawrence a deacon and appointed him Archdeacon of Rome and entrusted to him the treasures of the Church, in keeping with the office of deacon.

In August of 258, the Emperor Valerian ordered that every Bishop, priest, and deacon be killed.  Pope Sixtus II and the deacons Felicissimus and Agapitus were martyred on August 6th and Saint Lawrence, who alone was left of the seven deacons of Rome, was martyred just four days later
Saint Lawrence received the martyr's crown on a grid iron, during which he is said to have quipped, according to The Golden Legend, to the prefect Decius, who ordered his death, "Behold, wretch, thou hast well cooked one side! Turn the other, and eat!"

Saint Lawrence addressed his last words to the Lord Jesus: "I thank You, O Lord, that I have been made worthy to enter Your portals!"

Beneath the church, a chapel has been built over the very place where the saintly deacon was killed:

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