Why is Saint Lawrence a "Feast" day?

I am not in any way undermining this great Saints memory and martyrdom and how he gave to the poor and called them the Churches treasure instead of handing it over to the emperor.
However, feasts are generally reserved to Saints who actually were Disciples or from the Apostolic age who were very much a part of Christs mission while on earth. Saint Lawrence was martyred in the third century. Why is his day a Feast and not just a Memorial like every other martyr from that era (or earlier) or any era for that matter? If I’m correct I think he is actually an exception to how Feasts are distinguished from Memorials when it comes to martyrs.

If I’m not mistaken, St. Lawrence is one of the martyrs invoked in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I). It seems that those who wrote the canon thought his martyrdom was very important if they wrote him into the prayer, so that’s why his feast at Mass is of a higher rank.


Yah he is. But I’m not sure even all of the Saints in that have feasts.
In communion with those whose memory we venerate, especially the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, and blessed Joseph, her Spouse, your blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, (James, John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude: Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian) and all your Saints: we ask that through their merits and prayers, in all things we may be defended by your protecting help. (Through Christ our Lord. Amen.)

Nobis quoque peccatoribus
To us, also, your servants, who, though sinners, hope in your abundant mercies, graciously grant some share and fellowship with your holy Apostles and Martyrs: with John the Baptist, Stephen, Matthias, Barnabas, (Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia) and all your Saints: admit us, we beseech you, into their company, not weighing our merits, but granting us your pardon, through Christ our Lord.

The Church obviously considers St. Lawrence to be an important saint. In the EF he is accorded the rank of second class feast, similar I would say to an OF feast. He also have a vigil on 9th August in the EF calendar.

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This might provide a clue (source: Wikipedia):

Lawrence is one of the most widely venerated saints of the Roman Catholic Church. Legendary details of his death were known to Damasus, Prudentius, Ambrose, and Augustine. Devotion to him was widespread by the fourth century. His liturgical celebration on 10 August has the rank of feast in the General Roman Calendar, consistent with the oldest of Christian calendars, e. g. the Almanac of Philocalus for the year 354, the inventory of which contains the principal feasts of the Roman martyrs of the middle of the fourth century. He remains one of the saints enumerated in the “Roman Canon” of the Holy Mass as celebrated in the Latin Church.

Lawrence is especially honoured in the city of Rome, of which he is considered the third patron after St. Peter and St. Paul. The church built over his tomb, the Papal Minor Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, became one of the seven principal churches of Rome and a favourite place of Roman pilgrimages. The area proximate to the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura is named the “Quartiere San Lorenzo”.


Just to tag on, for most of the history of the Church, the liturgy was shaped just as much by popular devotion as popular devotion was by the liturgy. The short answer to your question is that St. Lawrence’s feast day is observed at that liturgical rank because it was important to people and to their devotion.



Yah it makes sense for sure.

I just was like thinking about all of the other martyrs from the early Church who are commemorated but not with a feast but a memorial.
Do any other saints from after the time of Christ besides St. Lawrence have a feast status?

Even though today, saints like Francis or Anthony of Padua or Therese are very popular, yet only have memorials.

I was happy to see the Holy Father raise St Mary Magdalene’s commemoration from a memorial to a feast.

Otherwise, only the apostles, St Mary Magdalene, St John the Baptist, Sts Peter and Paul, St Joseph, and Our Lady have feasts or solemnities… St Lawrence is literally the only post-apostolic saint to have that honour.

In the calendars for religious orders, this may be different though. St. Dominic for obvious reasons among the Dominicans would be celebrated as a first class feast in the EF.

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Yes, I meant on the general Roman calendar. In any given diocese or parish, the patron saint’s day is also a local feast.


He was also literally roasted alive. A great martyr of the third century. At the hour of death he prayed tor the conversion of Rome so that Christianity would spread all over. And so it happened.


In the OF even, St. Benedict has a feast (March 21) of his passing, and a solemnity (July 11), in the Benedictine and Cistercian calendars. And St. Scholastica, his sister, is a feast in the Benedictine calendar. As twf points out though, religious orders and local calendars will have feasts their patron’s day.

On the other hand, not all apostles have feasts. St. Barnabas (June 11) is a obligatory memorial, the only apostle not celebrated as a feast (although I celebrate that day as a feast, it’s my birthday :wink: )


St Barnabas is given the title apostle in scripture, but he wasn’t one of the 12. That’s probably the difference there. St Paul was also not one of the 12, but he’s a special case :).

He did suffer a horrible death.
However many martyrs did…Who was it Perpetua and Felcity who were torn apart by beasts in Rome? Or Polycarp, Ignatius of Antioch?

Like I said I am not undermined Saint Lawrence, it just seems like it is a strange phenomenon that he has a feast when most others of his time have a memorial.

Yah I agree. Honestly I would like to see St. Martha elevated as well.

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Well the apostles have feasts so it bothered me that the Apostle to the Apostles, as the Fathers named her, didn’t.

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Normally I’m no fan of adding more feasts. It complicates the LOTH, and too many feasts, they lose their meaning with too few ordinary days to give contrast.

But for her, she already had proper antiphons and the festival psalms at Lauds and Vespers. So it just meant using the psalms and first reading from the Common at the Office of Readings, and adding the Te Deum, plus readings from the Common and proper collect at the day hours.

It’s more problematic for the monks though, as it adds a third Nocturne, gospel reading and third reading, which really lengthens Vigils. In a week when they is already a feast (St. Anne), and a major memorial on the local Benedictine calendar with festive psalms and proper antiphons. One monk quipped to me “we need a Vatican III to clean up the calendar again!”. Another claims a very big devotion to Saint Feria… since they chant Lauds and Vespers, feasts and proper antiphons are more difficult as they only see them once a year, instead of weekly.

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Councils don’t change the calendars, in fact I don’t think they do anything with that.
For example, Pius Xll revised the calendar in 1955 drastically; where there had been many octaves for example, he reduced it to Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost.
Paul Vl revised it even more in 1969, to a point that has been contentious between traditionalists and contemporary Catholics, as he removed the Pentecost Octave, Passiontide, and the Septuagesima season; and also Sundays are called Ordinary Time now. Many Saints were removed from the calendar.
And I agree that it seems like in the past twenty years the calendar has begun to get cluttered again, especially with more modern saints, which I’m not a fan of as it in my opinion leads to a cult of personality. Like wonderful JPll is a saint but why he was thrown on the universal calendar right away is beyond me.

It was the work of the Consilium appointed to implement Vatican II, but of course St Paul VI approved and signed the final result.

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