Saints of the Roman Canon: St Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, August 10th

In the latest in our occasional series of saints of the Roman Canon, here are some pictures of St. Lawrence. He was a deacon and martyr, and one of the seven deacons of the Roman church, martyred under the same Valerian edict in which St. Sixtus II was martyred, only a few days later. He is one of the most celebrated Roman martyrs.

Lawrence is shown wearing a dalmatic – the deacon’s vestment – and holds a book of psalms and alms for the poor. He also appears as a martyr with the symbol of martyrdom the palm branch and a grid iron. By tradition he was arrested and tortured to death on a hot grid iron. You can read about his life on New Advent here.

Above, St Lawrence painted by Spinello Aretino, Italian 14th century; and below by Bernado Strozzi, Italian 17th century. The Strozzi painting is called The Charity of St Lawrence. As part of his duties as s deacon he distributed alms and the treasures of the church, that were coveted by the Emporer. Lawrence continued to distribute alms and told the Emporer that the poor themselves were the real treasures of the Church.

And finally, in the Niccoline Chapel in the Vatican, there is a series of frescoes painted by Fra Angelico.

This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches and schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. You can read it here.

In these I plan to cover the key elements of images of the saints of the Roman Canon – Eucharistic Prayer I – and the major feasts of the year.

For the fullest presentation of the principles of sacred art for the liturgy, take the Master’s of Sacred Arts, www.Pontifex.University.

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