Our Patron Saints
It is a source of strength and joy to us when we remember that, through Christ, we are united not only to the Father, but to each other, including those we call Saints in heaven. We ask them to pray for us, since they are so close to God in holiness and charity, and they show us love by interceding for us. St Benedict, of course, is the patron Saint of all Benedictines, but we have two special patron Saints of our own here at Ampleforth: St Laurence (to whom the Abbey Church is dedicated) and St Alban Roe, a monk of this community who became a canonised martyr.
Saint Laurence (or St Lawrence), one of the seven deacons of Rome, suffered martyrdom during Emperor Valerian's persecution of the Christians. Laurence was a deacon of Pope Sixtus II and was overwhelmed with grief when Sixtus was condemned to death in the year 258. As deacon, Laurence had charge over the possessions of the church. The Prefect of Rome commanded Laurence to bring the treasures of the church to be handed over to the Emperor. Laurence said he would need three days to collect them. He sold them and then he hastened through the city giving the money to the poor, the crippled, widows, orphans and other unfortunates. These then followed him to the Prefect’s house, knowing the danger he was in. When the Prefect demanded the treasures of the church, Laurence waved his hand to the people; “Behold, these are the treasures of the Church.”
Furious, the Prefect prepared a red-hot griddle and bound Laurence to it. As they were holding him down with iron forks, Laurence said: "I offer myself up as a sacrifice to God for an odour of sweetness." With a humour that only the Saints possess, he raised his eyes to the judge and said; "See, this side is well roasted; turn me on the other and eat." These words, in Latin, are the magnificat antiphon for Vespers on his Feast Day. According to Prudentius, an early Christian writer, Laurence's death and example led to the end of paganism in the city and inspired a great devotion in Rome.
St Laurence's name is in the first Eucharistic Prayer, and his Feast Day is celebrated on 10th August.