Today’s Station Church was San Lorenzo in Lucina. This church takes part of its name from the wealthy donor of the site, the Roman landlady Lucina. In the mid 430’s Pope Sixtus III built the first basilica here. The Norman sacking of Rome in 1084 damaged the original church and after refurbishing the church was rededicated by Pope Anacletus II in 1130. Blessed Pius IX brought the interior to its modern appearance in 1857 and 1858. Restoration work in the early 20th century brought the façade to its current appearance. The skull of Pope Saint Alexander I resides in one of the side chapels.
In the final side altar on the right is the most famous relic in the church which is part of the grill on which Saint Lawrence was martyred. For those who have not heard about Saint Lawrence he is one of the most interesting saints in Church history. The early Church was one that was often persecuted in ancient Rome. Saint Lawrence was a deacon of the Church in Rome and did the things that modern deacons do today, carrying out especially the Church’s social teaching. The Romans came for the Pope at the time and led him off to be martyred. Saint Lawrence came out while the Pope was being led to his martyrdom and asked that he be able to join the Holy Father. The Pope told Saint Lawrence that it was not yet his time, but that his time would come soon. He put Saint Lawrence in charge of the Church’s finances and continued on to his execution. Saint Lawrence was soon ordered by the authorities to turn over the Church’s treasures to the Roman government. Saint Lawrence worked quickly to give away all of the church’s material goods and showed up at the appointed time to the authorities not with material treasure, but with what the Church truly values, the poor, sick, and suffering. He proclaimed to the astonished authorities that these were the treasures of the Church. This no doubt upset them greatly and Saint Lawrence was ordered to die four days after the Holy Father whom he had tried to join. He was martyred by being cooked on a grill and famously mocked his executions by proclaiming in the last minutes of his life that he was done on this side and should be flipped. Saint Lawrence is often depicted holding a grill which was the instrument of his martyrdom.
In today’s readings one of the scribes asks Jesus what is the first of all of the commandments. Jesus responds that we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. He declares that there is no commandment greater than these. The scribe responds that these commandments are greater than all the burnt offerings and sacrifices. Jesus saw that the man understood and proclaimed that he was not far from the Kingdom of God.
During this Lenten season we are seeking to return to God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Today we are reaffirmed that in doing this we are drawing close to the Kingdom of God. Let us take heart in this message as we reach the midway point of Lent and rededicate ourselves to drawing close to the kingdom of God.
God Bless, have a great day and as always if you want to feel free to check out my blog here.