ST. LAWRENCE of BRINDISI, Priest and Doctor
St. Lawrence, the first Capuchin Franciscan to be honored as a Doctor, was born in Brindisi, a town located on the Adriatic coast of the heel of Italy. Educated from his youth by the Conventual Franciscan Friars, he acquired great facility in languages and is considered the greatest linguist among the Doctors of the Church. His fields of labor were many: army chaplain, diplomat, leader of the Counter-Reformation in Austria and Bohemia, teacher of Sacred Scripture, exegete and mariologist. St. Lawrence offers priests a wonderful model for their studies and preaching.
His name was Julius Caesar, and he was born at Brindisi in the kingdom of Naples in 1559. Educated in Venice at the College of St. Mark, he entered the Capuchins and was given the name Lawrence. Finishing his studies at the University of Padua, he showed a flair for languages, mastering Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish, and French, and showed an extraordinary knowledge of the text of the Bible.
While still a
deacon, St. Lawrence of Brindisi became known as an excellent preacher and after
his ordination startled the whole of northern Italy with his amazing sermons.
Sent into Germany by the pope to establish Capuchin houses, he became chaplain
to Emperor Rudolf II and had a remarkable influence on the Christian soldiers
fighting the Muslims when they were threatening Hungary in 1601.
efforts, the Catholic League
was formed to give solidarity to the Catholic cause
in Europe. Sent by the emperor to persuade Philip III of Spain to join the
League, he established a Capuchin friary in Madrid. He also brought peace
between Spain and the kingdom of Savoy.
compassion for the poor, the needy, and the sick was legendary.
Elected minister-general of his order in 1602, he made the Capuchins a major
force in the Catholic Restoration, visiting every friary in the thirty-four
provinces of the order and directing the work of nine thousand friars.
He himself was a dominant figure in carrying out the work of the Council of
Trent and was described by Pope Benedict XV as having earned "a truly
distinguished place among the most outstanding men ever raised up by Divine
Providence to assist the Church in time of distress."
In 1619, he
undertook a journey to see King Philip III of Spain on behalf of the oppressed
people of Naples who were ruled by a tyrannical governor. Lawrence reached
Lisbon where the king was residing, and it was there that his last illness
overtook him. His body was carried back to Spain and buried in the church of the
Poor Clares at Villafranca del Bierzo.
canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1881 and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope
John XXIII in 1959.
Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens
Things to Do: