10 August [St Lawrence]
Jn 12:24-26

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

St Laurence was martyred in Rome in 258 during the persecution under the Roman emperor Valerian.  He was among the seven deacons serving Pope St Sixtus II, who was martyred a few days before Laurence.  When he was challenged to hand over the Church’s treasure to the authorities, he asked for a few days’ grace; then “he went all over the city, seeking out in every street the poor who were supported by the Church, and with whom no other was so well acquainted. On the third day, he gathered together a great number of them before the church and placed them in rows: the decrepit, the blind, the lame, the maimed, the lepers, orphans and widows; then he went to the prefect, invited him to come and see the treasure of the Church.” 

Although Lawrence was probably beheaded, St Ambrose of Milan and the Latin poet Prudentius, among others, recorded that he was roasted to death on a gridiron.  Many conversions to Christianity throughout Rome reportedly followed Laurence's death, including those of several senators witnessing his execution.  The Basilica of San Lorenzo, Rome, was built over his burial place.



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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