Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria
Mary, with Her loving Son,
bless us each and every one
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi - Theologian, member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Saint and Doctor of the Church
Saint Lawrence was born on July 22nd, 1559, in the town of Brindisi (which was then part of the Kingdom of Naples). He was given the name Giulio Cesare Russo by his Venetian merchant parents. Tragedy struck him early in his life when both parents died and Saint Lawrence was moved to be raised by his uncle. After a formal education at Saint Mark's College in Venice, Saint Lawrence joined the Capuchins in Verona and took the name Brother Lawrence. It was here that his ability to learn languages exploded as he quickly began to be able to read and speak Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French fluently. His fluency in Hebrew was so great that rabbis would later assume that he had been a Jewish convert to Catholicism. At 23 he was formally ordained as a Priest.
Only 8 years later Saint Lawrence was elected superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany and soon appointed definitor general to Rome for the Capuchins. He aided Pope Clement VIII in preaching the faith to Jewish citizens in Rome. In 1599, Saint Lawrence took upon the task of establishing Capuchin monasteries in Germany and Austria to further the counter-reformation and to bring back those who had left the Church.
In 1601 Saint Lawrence joined the army of Rudolph II, the Holy Roman Emperor, as the Imperial Chaplain. Saint Lawrence lead the army during the siege of Szekesfehervar in Hungary against the Ottoman Empire from the front lines, armed only with a crucifix that he clutched in his hands. The Turkish army surrendered after destroying the Christian church inside the town.
Returning home, Saint Lawrence was elected Vicar General of the Capuchin friars. He was again elected to the position in 1605 but turned it down, choosing instead to serve as papal nuncio to Bavaria and then to Spain. After this he retired to a monastery in 1618 to live out his life in quiet contemplation but was recalled as special envoy to the king of Spain in 1619. In Lisbon, on July 22nd, 1619, Saint Lawrence died.
Pope Pius VI beatified him in 1783 and Pope Leo XIII formally canonized him in 1881. His feast day is celebrated in the General Roman Calendar on July 21st. Today Saint Lawrence is honored with the title of Doctor of the Church (Doctor apostolicus). Many of his writings were preserved and a critical edition over 15 volumes comprising the following has been released:
Explanatio in Genesim
Sermones de tempore