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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
St Lawrence Jewry
The stunning church dedicated to a Saint who was roasted alive.
Location: Gresham Street
Description: There has been a church here since at least the twelfth century, and the first church is thought to have been built in 1136. That was sadly destroyed in the Great Fire of London and this was one of many re-built by Sir Christopher Wren.
Work began in 1670 and was completed in 1677. It was one of Wren's most expensive City Churches - probably all that gold leaf adornment inside.
The church was described by Sir John Betjeman as very municipal, very splendid. and it was designated a Grade I listed building on January 4, 1950.
The dedication of the church is to St Lawrence whose symbol is a gridiron which can be seen on the weather vein of this church.
Lawrence's story however is rather grisly.
When Sixtus became Bishop of Rome in 257AD, Lawrence was ordained a deacon and placed in charge of the administration of Church goods and care for the poor. He became regarded as one of the first archivists and treasurers of the Church and was made the patron of librarians.
In the persecutions under Valerian in 258 A.D., numerous priests and deacons were put to death, while Christians belonging to the nobility or the Roman Senate were deprived of their goods and then exiled.
The Prefect of Rome, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away, so he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church's treasure to him. Lawrence agreed to comply within three days.
He went through the city and gathered together all the poor and sick people supported by the Church, or in some versions of the story - all the children.
When he showed them to the Prefect, he declared: This is the Church's treasure!
In great anger, the Prefect condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. The Saint was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire. However Lawrence had so much love of God that it is said he almost did not feel the flames and that God gave him so much strength and joy that he even joked. Turn me over, he said to the judge. I'm done on this side! And just before he died, he said, It's cooked enough now.
Then he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Faith might spread all over the world. Saint Lawrence's feast day is August 10th.