Today is the Feast of St. Lawrence (San Lorenzo), who died on 10 August 258 in Rome. A deacon of the Roman Church, Lawrence was among the Christians persecuted by Emperor Valerian (r. 253-60) in the mid 3rd century. August 258 saw the imperial order that all Christian clergy be executed. Among the martyrs were Pope Sixtus II and the deacons, Felicissimus and Agapitus. Lawrence, buried in Via Tiburtina, is the best known and most revered of these martyrs. Emperor Constantine built the first memorial to the saint in the early fourth century, which was enlarged several times by various popes. St. Ambrose recounted how Lawrence gave alms to the poor and later presented them as the treasure of the church. His account also records Lawrence’s brutal martyrdom by which he was burned on a gridiron. Lawrence is typically represented wearing ecclesiastical garb and holding a book or his grill. His life and death have been represented by numerous Italian artists over the centuries.

Don Silvestro dei Gherarducci, Gradual from Santa Maria degli Angeli (Folio 134), c. 1370, tempera and gold on parchment, Baltimore, Walters Art Museum

Pacino di Bonaguida, Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, ca. 1340, tempera and gold leaf on parchment, Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum

Gianlorenzo Bernini, The Martyrdom of St Lawrence, 1614-15, marble, Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi

Agnolo Bronzino, Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, 1569, fresco, 1550, Florence, San Lorenzo

Pietro da Cortona, Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, oil on canvas, 1646, San Lorenzo in Foro Boario, Rome

Church of San Lorenzo, Florence

Fra Angelico, St Lawrence Distributing Alms and Martyrdom of St Lawrence, 1447-49, fresco, Rome, Cappella Niccolina, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican

San Lorenzo fuori le Mure, Rome

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