St. Lawrence of Rome is the patron saint of comedians. I had no idea there was one. But there is, and it’s St. Lawrence. He earned that designation for his obstinate and comedic refusal to deny Christ, even to his death.
From The Catholic Company:
He was appointed by Pope St. Sixtus II as archdeacon over the seven deacons of Rome, and held the sacred duty of tending to the Church’s wealth and distributing alms to the poor. After Pope St. Sixtus II was beheaded by Roman Emperor Valerian, along with the six other deacons, Lawrence was left as the highest-ranking clergy in Rome. He was ordered by the Roman authorities to appear before the tribunal—a summons to his execution—along with the treasures of the Church that were in his possession.
You’re probably thinking, “that’s hysterical, Bill.”
Here’s where the comedy (sort of) begins. Again, from The Catholic Company:
St. Lawrence then quickly distributed the Church’s wealth to the poor so that the government could not confiscate it. On the appointed day, August 10th, Lawrence responded to the summons by bringing with him a multitude of the poor and crippled of Rome
When the Roman Tribunal rebuked him for failing to bring the treasures of the Church, Lawrence pointed to the poor and crippled and said, “These are the treasures of the Church!”
Again from The Catholic Company:
This angered the authorities so greatly that Lawrence was ordered to be burned alive on a gridiron. He was bound to the metal grate and slowly roasted to death over hot coals. During his torture Lawrence famously mocked his torturers by saying, “I am done on this side, turn me over.”
St. Lawrence is the patron saint of many causes including cooks, chefs, comedians, deacons, librarians, students, and the poor.
Saints of Action #
It’s easy to be drawn to the many great saints who’ve left us remarkable texts that lead us deeper into our relationship with Jesus Christ. These literary saints, too, are treasures of the Church.
But saints of action teach us what to do, not just how to think and pray. And men need models for action.
St. Lawrence is a saint of action. He lived the Gospel. And, when his life was on the line, he mocked Christ’s persecutors with awesome laugh lines that withstand the test of time.
“I’m done on this side; turn me over.” You will never forget that line, will you?
Teach the Young about St. Lawrence #
When I was preparing for Confirmation in 1975, I had never heard of St. Lawrence. The 1970s were sort of a low point of catechesis. We didn’t learn much about the saints, except the big names: Peter, Paul, Mary.
By 1975, the ugly and awkward Novus Ordo Mass was already deeply entrenched, so never even heard the saints named in the Canon of the Mass. In English:
To us sinners also, Thy servants, trusting in the multitude of Thy mercies, deign to grant some part and fellowship with Thy holy Apostles and Martyrs, with John, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicitas, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and with all Thy Saints, into whose company, we beseech Thee, not as appraiser of merit but as bestower of pardon, to admit us. Through Christ our Lord.
Counterfactuals are dangerous, but I’m pretty sure I’d have chosen Lawrence as my Confirmation name had I known about him. (Instead, I chose Peter, because of his flaws.)
If you know a young man preparing for Confirmation, please help him expand his knowledge of the saints, especially the ones who left us few words. Especially, those saints whose few lingering words stay with us, like the words of St. Lawrence.
St. Lawrence of Rome, pray for us.
Have a blessed day.