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July 21st: St. Lawrence of Brindisi, a Franciscan Doctor of the Church

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi is the Apostolic Doctor and the doctor of conversions and missions. He said that the Savior would have become man even if the first man, Adam, had not sinned. No other doctor stated more clearly how much God desires to share love with us with these profound words. From this comment, we understand that God is a Lover first and afterwards a Savior. It is primarily through his love in the person of Jesus Christ as Savior that we know how to be saved.Jesus’ coming reveals why we need to continue his mission with him and have a mission or purpose for others. Conversion and sanctification can be a life-long process acted out daily.

Lawrence was quickly elected to the highest office with the Capuchins. He was also appointed Papal Emissary and peacemaker. He traveled to foreign countries to settle royal quarrels, acted as a Diplomat and worked for pacification and healing among nations. His ability to speak eight languages empowered him to evangelize and teach about God’s love and how we are to be saved.

Everywhere he completed a mission there were miracles and conversions. His words and example were always inspiring, simple yet profound. He was a person of enormous influence and his writings probably exceeded all the doctors. His love and expression about St Mary revealed her efficacious role as the Redeemer’s Mother and Savior.

St Lawrence, 1559-1619. Doctor of Conversions and Missions, Feast Day July 21st.


Fr. Christopher Rengers O.F.M. Cap. writes in his “33 Doctors of the Church” the following on this wonderful Eucharistic and Marian Saint:

His Love of the Mass

St. Lawrence’s love for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was extraordinary. Especially in his later years, after 1606, he spent an unusually long time at the altar. When he returned to Germany at this time, he was armed with all the dispensations he needed to offer Mass in the manner he liked. The length of his Mass was most evident on the feasts of Our Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The longest Mass he ever offered was in 1618,the last Christmas of his life. This Mass took 16 hours! Masses often lasted six, eight and 10 hours during these years. Even when he was quite sick, his Mass would last for several hours. In the latter part of his life, as his pains increased, at times he was confined to bed and could not stand or move. But he was carried to the altar.

Nothing could keep St. Lawrence from saying Mass. One morning he walked 20 miles while fasting in order to reach a place where he could offer Mass.. During his Mass he would cried many tears and his face would mirror a variety of emotions, ranging from great sorrow to intense joy.

A Devout Marian Scholar

If we were limited to calling St. Lawrence of Brindisi either a great Marian scholar or a great lover of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it would be hard to make a choice. In him scholarship and devotion went together. His Mariale, consisting of 84 sermons, is the outstanding Mariological work of his time. His personal devotion to Mary and his love for her were the outstanding features of his own life.

St. Lawrence was a profound theologian as well as a Scripture scholar, so that when he spoke of Mary, he always stood on rock-solid ground of Catholic doctrine. His own heart-felt 1ove and devotion came to him as gifts of his youth. They deepened and intensified as his studies gave him greater acquaintance with the plans of God for Mary and how these affected men. St. Lawrence of Brindisi explained more clearly than any writer before him the fundamental principle of Mariology, which is the divine maternity. All Our Lady’s privileges, offices and glory are related to the unique fact that she is the Mother of God.

With St. Lawrence this fundamental fact took on a special meaning and beauty in light of the absolute primacy of Christ. Since you cannot separate mother and child, Mary was included in the divine decree of the universal primacy of Christ. If Christ was first in the plan of God as the Model and Head of all creation, then Mary must have been included in this same decree. This concept paves the way to a sweeping view of creation and of the re-creation that came with Redemption, in which Christ and Mary always act together and are viewed together.

St. Lawrence viewed Christ and Mary as inseparable in God’s plans. Therefore Our Lady is in all ways similar to Our Lord. Christ and Mary are considered as a pair In securing the Redemption, as Adam and Eve were in man?s fall.

Through the first woman and the first man the world was condemned; through the second Man and the second woman it was saved. Thus the principle of our reparation corresponds wonderfully with the principle of our ruin. As then a demon in the bodily form of a serpent was sent by the devil to lead Eve astray, who was at that time both a virgin and espoused to a man, so an angel was sent by God in bodily guise to Mary, likewise a virgin and spouse. And as Eve, by giving ear to the serpent, became the origin of our fall, so Mary-by believing the angel-became the origin of our restoration. The former inaugurated sin and death; the latter inaugurated grace and life. Through the former we lost the earthly paradise; through the latter we gained the heavenly paradise. (Mariale, p. 91)

On her own plane as a creature, acting with free will, yet associated with Christ by the divine maternity, Mary joined in the sacrifice on Calvary. The Blessed Virgin Mary’s association with Christ in the Redemption has often been spoken of. Less heard of and so perhaps more striking are St. Lawrence’s thoughts on her association with her Son in the universal primacy. “Every gift, every grace, every good that we have and that we receive continually, we receive through Mary. If Mary did not exist, neither would we, nor would the world.? Such words as these of St. Lawrence reveal a mind that saw the beauty of Mary everywhere, logically following from the original divine decree.

St. Lawrence attributed everything to Mary: his vocation, his restoration to health as a student, his knowledge of Hebrew, all his successes. He always went to her in all his needs. When made General of the Order, he first went to Loreto, his favorite shrine, and he went there again at the conclusion of his term. In fact, he thought nothing of making a trip to Loreto or to other shrines of the Blessed Virgin, taking a few days detour and set?ting aside the time from his many occupations.

He said the Rosary and the Office of the Blessed Virgin daily from his student days onward, he fasted every Saturday in her honor, and from 1610 on he had an indult to say her votive Mass every day except on the chief feasts of the year. He often sang her hymns while he was walking along. In his later years especially, the mere mention of Mary’s name was apt to send him into a state of rapture in which he would lose track of what was happening about him. St. Lawrence used to bless the sick with the words, “May God deliver you through the names of Jesus and Mary.” His favorite blessing for the friars was, ?May the Virgin Mary bless us with her loving Child!”

The Mariale

The life of St. Lawrence of Brindisi can be called a Marian canticle of the heart. His Mariale can be called a canticle of the mind. It was not composed as a tract, but its 84 sermons form a complete Mariology, including material on the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, which were defined only cen?turies later.

Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Author Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

Our Lady found this unworthy lukewarm person and obtained for her the grace to enter the Third Order of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. May this person spend all eternity in showing her gratitude.

More posts by Sr. JosephMary f.t.i.

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