Saint of the Poor

During Pope Sixtus II’s rule St Lawrence was the Deacon of the Church of Rome. Being the Deacon, he was in charge of the management of Church goods. Emperor Valerian, who was the then reigning king of Rome, with his eye on the treasury of the Church ordered that they be handed over to him. St Lawrence knew the disastrous results of such wealth getting into the wrong hands. He came out with a bouncer. A solution that brought a lot of smiles on the faces of the poor. St Lawrence, instead of giving the wealth to the emperor, emptied the treasuries and distributed it among the poor. When the emperor sent his men over to gather the church’s treasures St Lawrence presented them with treasures of a different kind. He brought to them the poor and the physically challenged saying that it was these who were the treasures of the Church. Thus, St Lawrence is also called the Saint of the Poor.

St. Lawrence, one of the deacons of the Roman Church, was one of the victims of the persecution of Valerian in 258, like Pope Sixtus II and many other members of the Roman clergy. At the beginning of the month of August, 258, the emperor issued an edict, commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death. This imperial command was immediately carried out in Rome. On 6 August Pope Sixtus II was apprehended in one of the catacombs, and executed forthwith. . also that when Pope Sixtus II was led away to his death he comforted Lawrence, who wished to share his martyrdom, by saying that he would follow him in three days. Four days later, on the 10th of August of that same year, Lawrence, the last of the seven deacons, also suffered a martyr's death. The saintly Bishop of Milan also states that St. Lawrence was burned to death on a gridiron.

St Lawrence is one of the most widely venerated saints of the Roman Catholic Church. Devotion to him was widespread by the 4th century. As his martyrdom occurred very early in Church history, many other Christians honor him as well.

St Lawrence is especially honored in the city of Rome, where he is one of the city's patrons. There are several churches in Rome dedicated to him, including San Lorenzo in Panisperna, traditionally identified as the place of his execution. The church of San Lorenzo in Lucina, dedicated to this saint, still exists. The feast day of St. Lawrence is kept on 10 August. He is pictured in art with the gridiron on which he is supposed to have been roasted to death.

He is invoked by librarians, cooks, and tanners as their patron. His celebration on 10 August has the rank of feast throughout the entire Catholic world. On this day, the reliquary containing his burnt head is displayed in the Vatican for veneration.

In Goa, the feast of St Lawrence is celebrated in quite a few places like Agaxim, where he is the patron saint, and at Sinquerim. Mr Rosario Rodrigues, the author of books like ‘Models of Holiness - from India and missionaries on the way to sainthood’ and the recent one ‘The Living Architectural Splendour’, a study on the Church of St Anna, Telaulim, says that the feast of St Lawrence is always celebrated on August 10. After the high mass a procession of the relic of St Lawrence kept in a silver monstrance, which was brought by missionaries to Goa, is taken around the Church.

On the Sinquerim hill stands the Church of St Lawrence offering a pleasant view of the sea. Nobody knows the reason why this saint is associated with the sea. Some like Annie Siveria, a housewife from Sinquerim, says that probably the saint is dear to the fishermen because from the sea the only two things visible are the lighthouse at Aguada and the Church of St Lawrence. On the feast day, after the high mass, the parish priest blesses the sea from the bandstand that is in the Church compound. He performs the blessing by lifting the monstrance having inside it the Blessed Eucharist. “Poile padri ani irmao dorian vetale, bengiar korpak, put ata accidents zaina zavpak ata te dorain vochona” – “ Earlier the priest accompanied by some parish members used to go in a canoe into the sea and bless it, but now they bless the sea from the Church,” informs Lourdina Belgal, another resident of the area.

Elders of the areas say that sandbars at the mouth of the sea were cleared after the holy blessings long ago. The fishermen used to face difficulties in taking their boat into the sea due to this sandbar. However, now with the use of mechanised boats, the problems of sandbars are overcome. Yet many fishermen still do not venture out into the sea until the blessings are done.

The day after the feast fishermen from Sinquerim and the surrounding areas offer a special mass at the Church asking for God’s blessings to ensure a good catch for the year to come

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