The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

St. Lawrence, guardian of the Church’s treasures


St. Lawrence by Deacon Lawrence Klimecki

Today marks the feast of a patron for deacons, St. Lawrence, guardian of the treasures of the Church. St. Ambrose reports that when Deacon Lawrence was ordered by the prefect to turn over the Church’s wealth, he spent three days rounding up the city’s poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering.  He presented them to the prefect, and announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. This act of defiance led directly to Lawrence’s martyrdom. He was burned to death on a gridiron — at one point, saying, “Turn me over. I’m done on this side.” (In addition to being the patron saint of deacons, he’s also the patron of chefs. Really. Who says the Church doesn’t have a sense of humor?)


Less well known, however, is Lawrence’s reputed connection to the Holy Grail:

According to lore, among the treasure of the Roman church entrusted to Lawrence for safe-keeping was the Holy Chalice, the cup from which Jesus and the Apostles drank at the Last Supper. Lawrence was able to spirit this away to Huesca, in present day Aragon, with a letter and a supposed inventory, where it lay hidden and unregarded for centuries. When Augustine connects Lawrence with a chalice, it is the chalice of the Mass:
“For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood”.


According to Christian history the Holy Grail is a relic that was sent by St. Lawrence to his parents in northern Aragon. He entrusted this sacred chalice to a friend whom he knew would travel back to Huesca, remaining in the monastery of Saint John of Pena, core of spiritual strength for the emerging kingdom of Aragon. While the Holy Chalice’s exact journey through the centuries is disputed, it is generally accepted by Catholics that the Chalice was sent by his family to this monastery for preservation and veneration. Historical records indicate that this chalice has been venerated and preserved by a number of monks and monasteries through the ages. Today the Holy Grail is venerated in a special chapel in the Catholic Cathedral of Valencia, Spain.


Somebody should tell Indiana Jones.

Anyway: this day the Church prays these words in the Liturgy of the Hours:


you called Saint Lawrence to serve you by love

and crowned his life with glorious martyrdom.

Help us to be like him
in loving you and doing your work.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.


Related: Another appreciation, from another deacon.  And here’s even more on Lawrence and the Grail.

Comments read comments(12)
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posted August 10, 2010 at 7:24 am

We were married on August 10, 1985; twenty six years ago! Thanks to St. Lawrence. By the way, my wife lived in the Mexican town of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence)adjacent to the border town of Juarez, across El Paso, Texas, which was celebrating the patron Saint’s feast that day. St. Lawrence of course was a deacon, and thank God and the dear Saint, I am now in the Deacon program near Boston, Ma. So in retrospect, Saint Lawrence has been interceding for us all along.
[Congratulations, Rudy! And good luck! Dcn. G.]

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Dnc. Chick

posted August 10, 2010 at 7:59 am

Let’s not forget he is also the patron saint of comedians and fire prevention… for a wise-cracking deacon with the surname of O’Leary those are important as well.

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Deacon Bill

posted August 10, 2010 at 8:57 am

I agree, Chick! One of the things that I have found characterizes the entire diaconate community is a well-honed sense of humor. Lawrence is the perfect model of all things diaconal, I think, including his sense of humor in the face of any challenge.
By the way, during the Jubilee Day for Deacons celebrated in February, 2000 in Rome, the relics of Saint Lawrence were placed in the audience hall for the entire day of meetings, talks and the audience with the pope. His presence was felt throughout the day, and every speaker, including the pope, referred to Lawrence as the model deacon.
God bless,

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posted August 10, 2010 at 11:30 am

Martin Kochanski of universalis pointed out in his short comment about the day that Laurence’s feast day has always been significantly more important than that of Pope Sixtus II who was martyred four days before.

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posted August 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Awesome picture! Is that one of Dcn. Klimecki’s works?

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posted August 10, 2010 at 3:44 pm

When a churchman named Lawrence confirmed my oldest son and gave him the name Lawrence, I knew there was something special about the saint who had the name first. Nearly half a century later I know there’s also something special about deacons (and maybe chefs, comedians and firefighters!). A deacon brings Jesus to my home every Sunday. The deacons I know are remarkable men with remarkable wives. Right on, St. Lawrence!

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posted August 10, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I LOVE that “icon” of Lawrence! Once, when discussing with several friends what we’d do with gobs of money (think Mega Millions rich), I said I’d hire some sculptors and painters to design a line of saint statues whose faces don’t look so sweet sugar wouldn’t melt in their mouths. I want a scowling St. Jerome, a St. Patrick who’s gettin’ down and dirty fighting druids, a St. Mary of Egypt whose skin shows the effects of living near naked in the desert (weather beaten, wrinkly, and dark), a St. Nicholas of Myra who looks like he’d slap the sh– out of Arius! I want real saints, not cream-colored, rosy-cheeked elves. Let’s have saints who had real pesonalities and who really lived for our Lord!
[Woodrow … ever see the tapestries at the cathedral in Los Angeles? I love them. I think you would, too. Dcn. G.]

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posted August 11, 2010 at 3:58 pm

But Patrick didn’t fight druids. He did prayer vs prayer duels along the lines of Elijah, and he converted druids; and his initial job as a shepherd was as the slave of a druid (who became one of his first converts later). He smashed Crom Cruach, but that was a rock or statue. I don’t remember any fighting being involved, unless you count that nasty letter to a British prince.

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posted August 12, 2010 at 12:45 am

Deacon Greg–you’re right! They’re excellent! Those are real people! Oh, to have such beautiful saints in every parish (double entendre intended)!
Maureen–I didn’t mean literal fighting. Prayer vigils, especially of that sort, can be exhausting. Patrick was so busy working for the salvation of Ireland that he was probably very tired quite often. We should see these things in renditions of the saints!

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posted September 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm

So Deacon Greg, is Lawrence’s connection to the Grail the source of the tradition that the Deacon is the proper minister of the chalice at Communion and also that he elevates the chalice at the Great Amen?

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Zach, Delasalle, Sophomore

posted January 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Woodrow, I disagree. Art is about showing the true beauty and inspiration in a person. The greater there inner beauty, the better there outward actions and looks seem. Laurence was one of the finest people ever to walk the earth. He lived and died to uphold the TRUE treasure of the church. You have every right to voice your own opinion, but to me, Art is about expressing deep meaning and the true essence of a person. Laurence seems to be one of the most beautiful people in the world to me , not because of outer looks, but because of his spirit, and thats what theological painters should try to convey in ALL there work.

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