St. Lawrence was the chief of the Seven deacons of the congregation at Rome, the Seven men who, like Stephen and his companions were in charge of administering the church budget, particularly with regard to the care of the poor. In the year 257, the Emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed chiefly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes. All church property was confiscated, and Christian meetings were forbidden. The bishop of Rome, Sixtus II and most of his clergy were executed on 7th August 258.
The facts recorded about a century later by Ambrose and poet Prudentius report that the Roman Emperor, knowing that Lawrence was the principal financial officer, promised to set him free if he would surrender the wealth of the church, Lawrence agreed, but said it would take him three days to gather the wealth of the church. During those three days he placed off all the money which was at his disposal in the hands of his trustworthy stewards, and then assembled the sick, the aged and the poor, the widows and orphans of the congregation and presented them to the Emperor and said, “These are the treasures of the church”. The enraged Emperor ordered him to be roasted alive on a gridiron (cooking utensil of metal bar). Lawrence bore the torture with great calmness, saying to his executioners, “You may turn me over; I am done on this side.” The spectacle of his courage made a great impression on the people of Rome and many got converted, greatly reducing among pagans the belief that Christianity was a socially undesirable movement that should be stamped out. Thus Lawrence laid down his life, for the poor and the marginalized by being roasted alive on 10th August 258.
Updated on: [October 03, 2019]