"These are the treasures of the Church". So, reputedly, said St Laurence to the prefect of Rome when he was commanded to hand over the riches of the Church to the authorities. In fact he was referring to the poor of the city whom he had assembled together. He had asked for three days to gather the Church's wealth, during which time he worked swiftly to distribute it to the poor of the city to prevent it being seized. This act of defiance led to Laurence's martyrdom on August 10, 258. For this reason we celebrate St Laurence's feast day on August 10 each year. The traditional account of his death says that he was roasted on a gridiron, which has become his symbol, and can be seen in St Laurence's Church on the end of one of the churchwarden's staves. During his torture he is supposed to have cried out "I am already roasted on one side and, if you would have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other."
St Laurence was one of the seven deacons of Rome who assisted the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). To this day the seven most senior cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church are known as the 'cardinal deacons' and are all based in Rome. Laurence is often depicted wearing a dalmatic, the distinctive robe of a deacon, and coloured red to signify his martyrdom. He was appointed as deacon by Pope Sixtus II in the year 257. He was placed in charge of the administration of Church goods and care for the poor (this probably explains the circumstances leading up to his death referred to above). For undertaking this duty, Laurence is regarded as one of the first archivists of the Church and is the patron saint of librarians. St Laurence is an important saint in the Roman Catholic Church, being one of its early martyrs, and his name is mentioned in the Canon (or first Eucharistic Prayer) of the Roman Mass. He is particularly honoured in the city of Rome, where he is one of the city's patrons and where a number of churches are named after him. The Church of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura is one of three Patriarchal Basilicas in the city and contains the stone on which Laurence's body was laid after his martyrdom. By tradition he was sentenced at San Lorenzo in Miranda, and martyred at San Lorenzo in Panisperna. The gridiron supposedly used to kill him is in San Lorenzo in Lucina.
The famous comments of St Laurence about the "treasures of the Church" surely remind us all in this materialistic age that the true treasures of the Church and the world are indeed its people, all made in the image of God, and not jewels, gold and silver, which are really of no lasting value.