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to Pope Hormisdas to request a relic of S. Laurence. He refused to send any part of the martyr's body, but gave him a small filing of the gridiron on which he had suffered, and which was preserved with great A similar gift S. Gregory the Great sent to a lord of France, who had begged it of him.
The martyrdom of S. Laurence is said to have been as glorious to the Roman Church, as that of S. Stephen was to the Church of Jerusalem, in earlier days. And the conversion of the city of Rome from paganism to Christianity which shortly followed it, is universally attributed to his prayers. His name has been celebrated by some of the most eminent of the ancient fathers. S. Ambrose, S. Augustin, S. Peter Chrysologus, S. Leo, and S. Maximus of Turin, have mentioned him in their writings, with the highest honour. Prudentius in his great poem Of the Crowns has related many particulars of his passion. It is from these early writers chiefly that we know the history of his life and death, for his Acts are wholly without credit.
The noblest monument of devotion to S. Laurence is the royal palace of the Escurial, about fifteen miles from Madrid. It was begun in 1557, by Philip II. of Spain, out of gratitude for a victory which he had gained, on the feast of S. Laurence, at S. Quentin in Picardy, over the French army; and it is named from a small village near it. It is built in the form of a gridiron, of which the royal apartments form the handle; in the centre is the church, and on either side are the palace and the convent and library arranged in many courts, arcades, and cloisters, and inclosing beautiful gardens within them.
It occupied twenty-two years in building. Underneath the church is the burying-place of the kings of Spain, in which is inscribed the legend, Ego dormio, et cor meum vigilat. "I sleep, but my heart
S. Laurence is generally represented in the vestments of a deacon, bearing the gridiron.
When Persecution's torrent blaze
Wraps the unshrinking martyr's head;
Who owns the Lord of love and power?
Or waves there not around his brow
A wand no human arm may wield,
His steps to guide, his soul to shield?
Christian Year, p. 266.
S. Augustin, Bishop, Confessor, and Boctor.
S. AUGUSTIN was born at Tagaste, an episcopal city of Numidia in Africa, in the year 354. His parents were of humble rank. His father Patricius was a
1 Cant. v. 2. See Annales d'Espagne, par Alvarez Calmenar, tome ii. p. 136.
pagan, but was finally converted to the Christian Faith by the gentle example and the prayers of Monica, the holy mother of S. Augustin. They bestowed great care on the education of their son; and he soon gave promise of future excellence in human learning. In his boyhood he was seized with a dangerous sickness, and earnestly desired baptism, having been already made a catechumen by the sign of the cross and salt, which was called the Sacrament of catechumens. His mother also longed for his regeneration in the waters of baptism. But for some reason it was put off; and as he speedily recovered, his desire for it was soon forgotten.
He was sent to Madaura, a town not far from Tagaste, to study grammar and rhetoric. When he was fifteen years of age, he returned home, and remained there for a year till his father had saved enough of money to send him to finish his education at Carthage. In this interval of idleness, he fell into dissolute habits, notwithstanding the tears of his mother; his father rather encouraging him in his vicious inclinations.
On his arrival in Carthage, he abandoned himself more entirely to unlawful pleasures, and stimulated his passions by frequenting plays, and public amusements. Yet his studies were not thrown aside. He devoted much of his time to gaining the knowledge which was needful for his profession of rhetoric. Among other books which he read was Hortensius," a treatise of Cicero now lost, containing an exhortation to the study of philosophy. It fell in his way when he was about eighteen years old, and affected him much, creating a longing in his mind after
something more satisfying than the hopes of the world, though as yet he knew not whither those desires would lead. At this time he began to read the holy Scriptures; but their great simplicity displeased him, and he deemed them unworthy of the understanding of any but a child.
In this state of mental uncertainty and bodily impurity, he fell a prey to the Manichean heresy. He was seduced by the great boast which its followers made of possessing the truth, and by the apparent reverence which they had for the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit; for the early lessons of his mother even then kept their hold on his mind. S. Monica was deeply grieved by the error of her son, and refused even to eat with him. But God comforted her in a dream, in which she seemed to be standing on a wooden rule, and a young man in shining garments came and asked her why she was weeping. She answered that she was bewailing the loss of her son. Behold he is with you, he replied; and presently she saw Augustin standing beside her. She related the dream to him, but he tried to evade its meaning by saying that, as he was, she should one day be. Nay," she answered without hesitation," he said not to me, Thou shalt be where he is, but, He shall be where thou art." From that time she lived as usual with her son.
In her grief, she went to entreat a holy bishop to speak to Augustin. He replied that it would be in vain, for her son was then too much elated by the novelty of the heresy; and foretold that as he continued to read he would discover his error. He also
recommended Monica to pray for him; for the bishop had himself been in his youth beguiled by his mother into the errors of Manes. Monica still continuing in the agony of her grief to urge him, he answered with some impatience, "Go away and God bless thee; the son of these tears shall not be lost.' She received his words as an oracle from heaven, and departed in peace.
When Augustin had finished his studies at Carthage, he began to teach rhetoric in his native city. He was much admired for his eloquence, and drew scholars around him, some of whom he led astray into the Manichean errors. Though still enslaved by his passions, mysterious longings after holier paths sometimes visited him. At this time he was much captivated by the science of astrology, but an aged physician persuaded him to abandon it. He had a very dear friend in Tagaste, who had grown up with him from childhood, and whom he had prevailed upon to join the sect of the Manichees. This young man fell sick, and while he lay insensible, he was baptized. When he came to himself, Augustin began to ridicule his baptism. But his friend reproved him, and desired him to forbear from such language. Augustin was astonished at the refrained, hoping that when he should recover he would return to his former belief. But God willed otherwise, and in a few days after, his friend departed to a better life. The sorrow of Augustin was inconsolable. As he himself says, his heart was utterly darkened, and whatever he beheld was death." He left Tagaste, where every thing reminded him of the
sudden change; but