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Subject: Excerpt Of History
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 08:46:45 EST




IF EVER A SAINT was known for his death, it is Saint Lawrence, the most
celebrated martyr of Roman times. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons under
Pope Saint Sixtus II in the 3rd century when the Roman emperor Valerian was
pursuing a periodic persecution of Christians. That is all that is known for
sure about Lawrence. But Christian writers soon after began telling a more
detailed account of Lawrence's death, and here is the story that was adopted by
the Catholic Church.
Lawrence maintained a cool smile as he roasted. Sure. After Pope Sixtus was
executed in 258, Lawrence believed he would soon follow. Lawrence, who was
the keeper of the church's treasures, began giving away valuable items to the
poor until he was arrested and told to turn in the rest of the riches over to
the Roman court.
Lawrence told the judge he needed three days to gather the treasures, and
then proceeded to round up a crowd of poor and handicapped people. "These are
the treasures of the church," Lawrence told the angry prefect.
The judge, believing a simple beheading was not sufficient, ordered that
Lawrence be burned to death, slowly. He was stripped and strapped facedown on a
gridiron that was propped above a bed of slow-burning coals. It is said that
Lawrence maintained a cool smile as he roasted and seemed unaware of the
searing heat. He even was quoted as telling the prefect, "Turn me. I am roasted
on one side."
According to Catholic doctrine, the horrible event so moved those who
witnessed it that several Roman senators converted on the spot and carried away
Lawrence's body for burial. His death, in fact, is credited with inspiring a
wave of conversions in Rome that ultimately turned the pagan city into the
foundation of Catholicism. A church was built over Lawrence's tomb that stands as
one of the seven principal basilicas of Rome.
But not all of Lawrence is buried there. A dozen other churches claim to
possess relics of the saint and his martyrdom, including the gridiron,
Lawrence's shoulder blade, arm, jaw, backbone joint, finger, two ribs, and some melted
fat.


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