August 10th is the feast day of St Lawrence. Aside from the apostles and St Paul, no single person achieved greater prominence in the early church than St Lawrence, who was the Archdeacon of Rome at the time of the persecutions of the emperor Valerian (r. 253-260).
In Rome, no fewer than 45 churches and oratories are dedicated to him, a number exceeded only by the Virgin Mary. San Lorenzo fuori le Mura stands on the 'site' of his burial, San Lorenzo in Panisperna stands on the 'site' of his martyrdom, while the 'gridiron' on which he is said to have been roasted alive, can be found in the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina.
St Lawrence was put to death on August 10th, 256. In a suitably gory end for a Christian martyr, the story goes that he was grilled alive over hot coals. Unfazed by this ordeal, he had the temerity to tell his torturers that he was 'done' on one side, asking to be turned over. It may come as no surprise to learn that Saint Lawrence became the patron saint of chefs.
The Perseids, the annual meteor showers, which peak between August 9th and August 14th, are sometimes referred to as the 'tears of St Lawrence'.
The meteor showers are called the Perseids, because the point from which they appear to hail lies in the constellation of Perseus.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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