On August 10, we will celebrate the feast of Saint Lawrence, a deacon of the Roman Church who was martyred during the persecution of Valerian in 258. Tradition tells us that Saint Lawrence's martyrdom was particularly painful: He was roasted on a gridiron. Icons and statues of Saint Lawrence, such as this one found in the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome, show him dressed as a deacon, holding the instrument of his torture and death. (To see a larger image of the statue, click on the picture.)
Over time, accounts of Lawrence's martyrdom took on new details, and even some generally reliable sources report that, halfway through his torture, Saint Lawrence supposedly said, "Flip me over; I'm done on this side." While almost certainly not literally true, this story contains a spiritual truth, illustrating the strength of Saint Lawrence's faith, which was shared by the martyrs of the early Church. Even in the face of great physical pain and certain death, they could remain filled with joy, because they knew that they were standing up for Christ.
And so, for our novena of the week, I have chosen a Prayer to Saint Lawrence, in which we ask the great martyr to intercede for us during our time of temptation or persecution. Begin the novena on August 1 to finish it on the eve of the feast of Saint Lawrence.
(A statue of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr, in the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, Rome, Italy. Photo © Scott P. Richert.)