The night of San Lorenzo (10 August) is traditionally associated with the passage of the meteor shower of the Perseids, a phenomenon popularly and erroneously called shooting stars but also poetically tears of San Lorenzo, considered evocative of the burning coals on which the saint was martyred. Indeed, in those days, the Earth’s atmosphere is traversed by a much higher number of small meteors than normal. The phenomenon is particularly visible in our latitudes as the summer sky is often clear.
Lorenzo (in Latin: Laurentius; Huesca, 225 – Rome, August 10, 258) was one of the seven deacons of Rome, where he was martyred in 258 during the persecution desired by the Roman emperor Valerian in 257. The Catholic Church venerates him as a saint .
There is little information on the life of St. Lawrence, who in the past also enjoyed notable popular devotion. It is known that he was originally from Spain and more precisely from Osca, in Aragon, at the foot of the Pyrenees.
Still young, he was sent to Zaragoza to complete his humanities and theological studies; it was here that he met the future Pope Sixtus II. He taught in what was, at the time, one of the best known study centers in the city and, among those teachers, the future pope was one of the best known and most appreciated. A friendship and mutual esteem therefore began between teacher and pupil. Later both, following a very lively migratory flow at the time, left Spain to move to Rome.
When on 30 August 257 Sisto was elected bishop of Rome, he entrusted Lorenzo with the task of archdeacon, that is, of responsible for the charitable activities in the diocese of Rome, which benefited 1500 people including the poor and widows.
At the beginning of August 258 the Emperor Valerian had issued an edict, according to which all bishops, priests and deacons were to be put to death:
The edict was carried out immediately in Rome, at the time when Daciano was prefect of the city. Surprised while celebrating the Eucharist in the catacombs of Pretestato, Pope Sixtus II was killed on August 6 along with four of his deacons, including Innocent; four days later, on 10 August, it was Lorenzo’s turn, who was 33 years old. It is not certain whether he was burned with a grill set on fire.