St Laurence

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The spelling of the forename (formerly called Christian name) Laurence/Lawrence is disputed. It is a matter of personal choice, or taste. The present writer of AWE prefers to write the name of the original Saint with '-u-, on the grounds that he predates the invention of the letter '-w-' (7th century, in the form '-uu-'). It must be said, however, that both Attwater (1965) and [the Catholic Encyclopedia] prefer Lawrence; ODNB prefers Laurence for him of Canterbury.

Several Lawrence (or Laurence)s have been canonized.

  • The first, after whom all the others appear to have been named, Saint Laurence the martyr, was born in Spain in 225CE. He went to Rome in company with the future Pope Sixtus II, who made him first among the seven deacons of Rome. Sixtus was martyred on 6th August 258 under the Valerian peresecution, and Lawrence followed on the 10th. His legend states that he was roasted alive on a gridiron (which is still preserved as a relic in the minor basilica San Lorenzo in Lucina). This story is regarded as legendary by those who point out that Valerian ordered that Christians when caught should be executed at once, which was normally by beheading.
  • Saint Laurence of Canterbury was a monk and priest who was part of St Augustine's mission in 597 and became the second Archbishop of Canterbury some time between 604. and 610. On the death of King Æthelberht of Kent, who had been converted to Christianity probably before the end of 597, in 616 or 618, his son Eadbald (d.640), who succeeded him, refused Christianity, clinging to the paganism of the peopole. But Laurence, despite temptations to return to Rome, stayed in Kent and converted him. This 'miracle' is the best reason for his canonization.
  • Saint Laurence O'Toole, English form of his own name in Irish Lorcán Ua Tuathail, (1128-1180), Abbot of Glendalough 1153-1162, and Archbishop of Dublin at the time of the Norman invasion of Ireland. He tried to mediate between the native Irish and the forces of Strongbow (Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, 1130–1176) and worked with Henry II, both in Irish matters and in relarion to the Vatican. He was also a benefactor of the poor, and played a prominent part in the Irish Church Reform Movement of the 12th century. Laurence died in 1180, in Eu, in France.
  • Saint Lawrence of Brindisi', a Capuchin monk and priest, born Giulio Cesare Russo (1559–1619) - theologian, Doctor of the Church, a counter-Reformation missionary and founder of monasteries in central Europe. He led an army, armed only with a crucifix, agains the Turks in 1601, briefly liberating the city of Székesfehérvár.
    • Many places and institutions have been named after Saint Laurence, usually the martyr. 228 parish churches in England are named for him, and the village of St Lawrence in the Isle of Wight is called after the 'Old Church of St. Lawrence', which dates from the 12th century; Italy and Spain have many towns and churches called San Lorenzo, as France (and French-speaking countries) has many communes called Saint-Laurent and churches dedicated to Saint Laurent. The great Escorial mkonastery and royal palace in Spain is formally San Lorenzo de El Escorial: it was founded to mark the Spanish victory over the French at the Battle of St. Quentin in Picardy on 10th August (feast day of St Laurence) in 1557. The floor plan is conceived of as echoing the grid-iron on which the saint was believed to have been mrtyred.
    • The St Lawrence river is one of the biggest rivers in Canada and the USA. It drains the Great Lakes, its estuary daining into the Gulf of St Lawrence which was first discovered to European knowledge by the French explorer Jacques Cartier, who cameto the Gulf on the Feast of St. Lawrence (10th August) in 1535. It is the basis of the St Lawrence Seaway, which allows passage of sea-going vessels between the Atlantic and the Great Lakes.
    • St. Lawrence Island, part of the state of Alaska, lies west of mainland Alaska in the Bering Sea. It came to European knowledge when visited on St. Lawrence's Day, August 10, 1728, by the Russian/Danish explorer Vitus Bering