“Be sure to turn me over when I’m done!”
They say that St. Lawrence of Rome cheerfully spoke this line as he was burning to death on a gridiron.
Was he crazy? What kind of lunatic says such a thing as he is undergoing a horrible death?
Well, one can imagine that the lighthearted Lawrence never took his persecutors too seriously. After all, God was in charge, and if he had to suffer and die for the Faith, what of it? He would earn a martyr’s crown, his blood would nourish the fledgling Church, and the joke would be on those who thought they were snuffing out the Faith with their ragings.
As a deacon serving under Pope Sixtus II, St. Lawrence was entrusted with the goods of the Church and the care of the poor. When the persecutors decided to confiscate the Church’s precious vessels, Lawrence probably laughed at that idea, too. He just gave all the precious items to the poor, and when the persecutors demanded that he hand over the “treasures of the Church,” the prudent deacon simply showed them the poor and blind, the orphans and the lame, saying that they were the true treasures of the Church.
The Emperor and his minions had had enough of this wise guy. After putting to death Pope Sixtus, they came for Lawrence.
But we know that nothing could break his joyful spirit. Even in the midst of terrible suffering, he was able to smile, even laugh, knowing that his tormentors were sending him to a life of eternal glory.
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