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Perseid meteor shower recalls life of heroic saint

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St. Lawrence's "tears" shoot across the night sky.

What do a 3rd-century saint and annual meteor shower have in common? More than you might think. The feast of St. Lawrence, one of the Church’s early deacons and martyrs, falls on August 10—around the time when the Perseid meteor shower is most visible in the night sky.

St. Lawrence is best known for his clever responses to intensely stressful situations. When the Roman authorities who were persecuting Christians demanded that Lawrence turn over to them the “treasures of the Church,” he brought to them the poor and crippled, declaring that these were the true treasures of the Church.

Laurence’s response to the Roman authorities led directly to his martyrdom. According to tradition, he was killed by being roasted alive. After some time suffering this pain, he called out to his executioners, “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!” Thanks to his good humor in the face of such suffering, he became the patron saint of chefs and comedians.

The shooting stars that fill the sky on Lawrence’s feast are reminders of his story in several ways. The burning debris recalls the coals over which he was burned. Also, some traditional Catholic countries describe the meteors as “the tears of St. Lawrence.”

If you get a chance to see this wondrous natural event this weekend, hopefully the meteors will call to mind the life and death of a great saint, inspiring you to pursue holiness with the zeal of St. Lawrence.

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