San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence)

Artist: 
Br. Arturo Olivas, OFS

Artist's Narrative:
According to tradition San Lorenzo was of Spanish birth. He served as a deacon in Rome responsible for collecting and distributing alms to the poor. During the persecutions of the Christians under the emperor Valerian, San Lorenzo was commanded to deliver the riches of the Church to the Roman Prefect. San Lorenzo gathered up the poor under his care and presented them to the authorities. Enraged, the Prefect ordered San Lorenzo to be burned on a gridiron. The saint endured his martyrdom with great fortitude and even humor. At one point he directed his torturers to turn him over for he was already done on one side. He died in 258 A.D.

In New Mexico San Lorenzo’s feast of August 10 is celebrated in the town of Bernalillo with a three day festival of prayer and ritual dances called Los Matachines. These dances have their roots in Native American and Hispanic traditions that reach back to Spain and possibly Italy. The feast day has an additional layer of meaning for New Mexicans because it was on this day in 1680 that the Native Pueblo people rose up in successful rebellion against the Spanish colonists.

San Lorenzo is one of the patrons of the poor, August crops, cooks, comedians, chickens, and protects against fire. He is also patron of the Native Pueblo of Picuris in northern New Mexico.

His feast day is August 10.

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