Fra Angelico
Lawrence, the Deacon

Anyone visiting Rome's religious sites today will find reminders of Lawrence, the deacon, who died a martyr's death in 258, during the brief persecution of the Emperor Valerian. Lawrence has a prominent place, beside the Risen Christ, in Michelangelo's Last Judgment in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.

Fra Angelico tells his story in the magnificent frescoes that were painted for the Chapel of Pope Nicholas V, now a section of the Vatican Museum. (at right: Fra Angelico's painting of Lawrence's ordination) Paintings of the saint's life abound in other sites in the city, where ancient churches mark his burial place, his martrydom and the spot where he helped the poor. He is one of the most popular of the early Roman saints. As a deacon of the Roman church, Lawrence was responsible for dispensing the church’s resources to the poor.

Certainly, for that effort alone he was blessed, for Jesus promised to count anything done to the poor as done to him. "I was hungry and you gave me to eat, thirsty and you gave me to drink; naked and you clothed me."

The story of Lawrence, however, is not just a story about him; it illustrates a remarkable period of growth in the Roman church of the late 3rd century.

Hearing the Cry of the Poor

The first Christian martyrs Cecilia, an early saint • Lawrence, the deacon
Sebastian, the soldier saintact with Compassionfront page

Sign of the Passion

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