Vestments in Honour of St. Lawrence

St. Lawrence is one of the most popular saints in the Roman church -- and when I say "Roman church" I mean not only the Roman and Latin rites, I mean specifically also the local church in Rome. This is testified to the fact that St. Lawrence has not only one church named after him in Rome, but at least eight (and this is to say nothing of chapels and the like that might also be dedicated to him): the papal basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, San Lorenzo in Lucina, San Lorenzo in Panisperna, San Lorenzo in Miranda, San Lorenzo in Damaso, San Lorenzo in Palatio ad Sancta Sanctorum, San Lorenzo in Piscibus and San Lorenzo in Fonte.  So important is St. Lawrence in Roman devotion, he is considered the third patron of Rome, following only after Ss. Peter and Paul themselves. St. Lawrence's Roman prominence is also testified to by the fact that his name is one of the few to be specifically named in the Roman Canon and early devotion to him can also be seen in Prudentius' "Hymn in Honour of the Passion of the Blessed Martyr Lawrence."

For those less familiar with St. Lawrence, he lived from the years 225-258. He was one of the seven deacons of the church in Rome -- in fact, he was the archdeacon -- who was martyred under the Emperor Valerian. As a result of this role, part of his task was to be caretaker of the treasury of the Church and he was in charge of the distribution of alms to the poor.  During this period of Roman history, Christians were routinely condemned and executed and their goods were seized and placed in the imperial treasury. During one of these persecutions, Lawrence was captured and was ordered to turn over the treasures of the church of Rome within three days. Famously, St. Lawrence gathered these together but instead he gave them to the poor and then, on the third day, when he presented himself before the Roman prefect he did so with members of the city's poor, stating they were the treasures of the Church. Furious, the prefect ordered Lawrence's execution upon a gridiron set overtop burning coals -- a slow, torturous death. Legend has it that St. Lawrence instructed his tormentors to flip him over, noting that he was 'done on this side' -- a quip thas has made him the patron saint of chefs amongst other things. 

Those interested further in the ancient devotion to St. Lawrence in Rome may wish to read our article, Popular Saint of the Romans: Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, but for today what I wanted to share were some select vestments that have been created with the martyr specifically in mind.  Most of them are red, obviously intended for us on his feast day which would call for that colour,  while one is white and they span over different centuries -- once again testifying to the saint's ongoing popular devotion. 

ca. 1890-1910

1937 - This particular example only shows his symbols; the palm of martyrdom and the grid-iron.

ca. 1790-1810

This next example is a shield from a cope which belonged to a solemn Mass set. It was the only piece that contained any image.

16th century

Since it is St. Lawrence's feast after all, we may as well also take this opportunity to share two other devotional pieces related to our saint, the first a sculptural reliquary carved in his image, intended to hold a relic of him.  The dating on this piece is not exact, but it would come from either the 1600's or 1700's. 

Finally, one of the more beautiful statues of the saint I have come across in my journeys. It looks as though he may have somehow lost his grille and palm at some point in the statue's history, but this carved statue of him is beautiful all the same. It dates to the fifteenth century. 

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