In the First Eucharistic prayer of the Mass we have a list of saints and martyrs. We keep the feast of one of these today, St Laurence or Lawrence. There is a very fine painting at the North Carolina Museum of Art done by Bernardo Strozzi showing the saint distributing the treasures of the church to the poor.
He was one of seven deacons of Rome under Pope Sixtus II (258) who were responsible for looking after the Church’s goods and for giving alms to the poor. The story is that when Pope Sixtus told Laurence he would follow him to a martyrs deaths in a few days. Laurence sold the sacred vessels in his keeping and gave all the money in his change to the widows, the poor and the sick of the city.
When he was asked to produce the Churches treasures, he summoned all these and showed them to the prefect, saying they were the only true treasure of the Church. The prefect decided to punish him by a slow death by being roasted over a gridiron.
He became one of the most popular of the Roman martyrs and by the middle ages there were at least thirty four Roman churches dedicated to him.
The life and death of Laurence gives me pause to ask “What do I see as the true treasures of the church today? How do I treat the poor, the widow, the sick and the marginalised?
“Lord grant that we may love what Lawrence loved and put into practise what he taught.”