28. The Saint of Comedians Turned His Martyrdom Into a Tragicomic Event
The Roman Catholic Church’s Saint Lawrence (225 – 258) was martyred during a wave of Christian persecutions that was ordered by the Roman Emperor Valerian. Lawrence is the patron saint of cooks, firefighters, and for good reason, as seen below, of comedians. He was born in Valencia, in the then-Roman province of Hispania. In his youth, Lawrence traveled to Zaragoza, where he met the future Pope Sixtus II, a famous and highly esteemed teacher in the Church of the third century.
Sixtus became Lawrence’s mentor, and when he left Hispania for Rome, Lawrence accompanied him. When Sixtus became Pope in 257, he appointed his young protege archdeacon, or first of the Church’s then-seven deacons. In that position, Lawrence was entrusted with safeguarding the Church’s goods and properties, and with distributing alms to the poor and needy. That set the stage for his tragicomic demise when, in 258, Emperor Valerian ordered a persecution of Christians, and decreed that all bishops, priests, and deacons, should be executed.