Laughter Road

Friday, August 10, 2007

Grill out today in the name of St. Lawrence

Today is the feast of St. Lawrence, who happens to be the patron saint of archivists and librarians. He was a deacon of the early church of Rome, and his primary task was to preside over the financial records of the church. In 258 the Emperor Valerian confiscated all church property and executed the pope (Sixtus II) and seven deacons who were distributing food and funds to the poor, mostly widows and orphans. The emperor demanded that Lawrence hand over the records of how much money had been distributed and an accounting of the current financial state of the church. As any good archivist would do, Lawrence informed the emperor that such a massive request would take three days to process. Lawrence arranged to quickly spend the money remaining in the accounts (a common event to archivists--being told they have a limited amount of time to spend any remaining budget--example: me, three months ago, spending four large figures in less than two weeks). When the emperor demanded to see the wealth of the church, Lawrence showed him the widows, orphans, and the poor, and told him that these were the treasures. The Emperor was incensed and ordered that Lawrence be roasted alive over a fire on a gridiron. Lawrence is reputed to have said, at one point, "You may turn me over, I am well done on this side."


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