Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi (also known as Julius Caesar Rossi; Laurence of Brindisi; Lorenzo da Brindisi) was born in 1559 A.D. at Brindisi, Italy as Julius Caesar Rossi. He was a son of Guglielmo de Rossi and Elisabetta Masella. He felt an early call to the religious life, and was educated by the Friars Minor Conventuals of Brindisi. Lawrence's father died when the boy was twelve.

Saint Lawrence joined the Capuchin Friars in 1575 at the age of 16, taking the name Brother Lorenzo. His studies at the University of Padua included theology, the Bible, Bohemian, French, German, Greek, Spanish, Syriac, and Hebrew. He was a brilliant student known for his facility with languages. Lawrence was a priest, and he taught theology. He served as linguist and military chaplain. He became a famous, effective and forceful preacher in any of his several languages. Lawrence became head of his order and founded convents at Vienna, Prague, and Graz.

Lawrence was chaplain of the army of the Holy Roman Empire in 1601. He rallied the German princes to fight a superior Turkish force, and was asked to lead the army into battle at Stuhlweissenburg (modern Albe-Royal) carrying no weapon but a crucifix. The Turks were completely defeated.

Saint Lawrence was the master general of his order from 1602 to 1605 and he was the choice for another term, but turned it down. He was assigned in 1605 to evangelize in Germany, where he had great success. He also convinced King Philip III of Spain to join the German Catholic League. Lawrence was the commissary general of his order for the provinces of Tyrol and Bavaria, and he was spiritual director of the Bavarian army.

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi died of natural causes on July 22, 1619 at Lisbon, Portugal. He is buried in the cemetery of the Poor Clares at Villafranca. In 1956, the Capuchin Order compiled fifteen volumes of his sermons, letters and writings. Pope John XXIII proclaimed Lawrence an Apostolic Doctor of the Church in 1959. 

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