Born in the 3rd century A.D. St. Lawrence believed to be a Spaniard was an extraordinarily virtuous young man. This quality came to the notice of St. Xystus, the then Archdeacon of Rome. Under the tutelage of St. Xystus, Lawrence studied the Holy Scriptures, and the maxims of Christian perfection.
St. Xystus was raised to the pontificate in 257; he ordained Lawrence deacon and appointed him the first among the seven deacons who served in the Roman Church. Lawrence thus became the Pope’s Archdeacon. This was a charge of great trust, to which was annexed the care of the treasury and riches of the Church, and the distribution of its revenues among the poor.
The Emperor Valerian, through the persuasion of Marcian, in 257, published his bloody edicts against the Church. His intention was the destruction of the Church. He commanded all bishops, priests, and deacons to be put to death without delay. The following year, in compliance to his orders, Pope St. Xystus II was apprehended. When Lawrence beheld him going to Martyrdom, he too was inflamed with a desire to die for Christ and expressed his yearning. The Holy Pope promised him that he too would follow him in a few days but having faced a greater trial crowned with a more glorious victory. He ordered Lawrence to distribute immediately among the poor, the treasures of the Church, which were committed to his care. Lawrence set out in haste to carry out the order. He distributed all the money to the poor widows and orphans. He even sold the sacred vessels to increase the sum.
The Prefect of Rome was informed of the riches of the Church, and imagining that the Christians had hidden considerable treasures, he was extremely desirous to secure them. He ordered Lawrence to reveal all the treasures to him. Lawrence asked for a little time to present to him the treasures of the Church. The Prefect granted him three days. Lawrence went all over the city, seeking out in every street the poor who were supported by the church. 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, widows, and virgins. He invited the Prefect to come and see the treasures of the Church and conducted him to the place. The Prefect was furious at the sight and threatened Lawrence against such action and asked him to show him the treasures according to his promise. Lawrence explained to him that they were the real riches of the Church. The materialistic Prefect was only insulted and in his rage ordered Lawrence to be put to death in a slow and torturous manner.
He ordered a great gridiron to be made ready. Lawrence was stripped, extended, and bound with chains upon the gridiron over a slow fire. He was broiled little by little. His face appeared beautiful, radiating extra-ordinary light. Great must have been the tranquility which he enjoyed even when he was being subjected to the torture. He only prayed for the conversion of the city of Rome and lifted his eyes up towards heaven and breathed his last. Several senators, who were present at his death, were so powerfully moved by his tender piety and his indifference towards the torture inflicted on him, that they became Christians on the spot. These noblemen took up the martyr’s body on their shoulders, and gave it an honourable burial in the Veran field, near the road to Tibur, on the 10th of August in 258. Now stands over his grave the Basilica of St. Lawrence.
The Church honours St. Lawrence as a martyr. It is a great privilege of the people of Karkala-Attur to have him as their patron.