Tilman Riemenschneider. Saint Lawrence. c.1502. Cleveland.
In the Cleveland Art Museum, in a time before its recent closure for renovation, there stood in the only room that had a door (a glass door), two, similar, painted and gilded lindenwood statues, that of Saint Lawrence with his grill, and Saint Stephen with rocks, both wearing a dalmatic. It is common in iconography of martyrs, to be portrayed with the implements of martyrdom. The room had 18th century french upholstery, and the stale, choking stench was terrible. In Saint Stephen’s Church, Cleveland, on one wall there are two windows of Stephen; on the opposite wall two of Lawrence. Also in Stephen’s church, there is a window of Nicodemus receiving secret instruction from Jesus. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin (as was Gamaliel). He was scared. He did help to bury Jesus. It was the Sanhedrin, which martyred Stephen. The windows in a church, often, tell a combined and lengthier story, than, many would think.
There stories are similar. Stephen and Lawrence were deacons and martyrs. Stephen in Jerusalem 35, Lawrence in Rome 258.
Pope Sixtus II was executed, and Lawrence was told to bring the riches of the church to the state, by the prefect of Rome. Three days later, he brought the poor, the crippled,the blind, the orphaned and the aged. The state was not amused.
He was executed in the fashion of grilled meat. He had humor. He told them, to turn him over, for he was only being cooked on the one side. The effect of his martyrdom on Rome was dramatic, the city’s conversion was accelerating. He had the Holy Grail, the Chalice of the Cena sent to his native Spain, he had sold the other church property, to be distributed to the poor, before his last day.
Now, August 3rd, is the Invention (the discovery) of Saint Stephen and Gamaliel, Abidon, the son of Gamaliel, and Nicodemus. Their relics (remains) were found in an abandoned tomb, and were brought to Jerusalem, then some to Constantinople, and then to Rome. Some of Stephen’s relics are in the tomb of Lawrence in Rome, in the Basilica of Saint Lawrence outside of the walls.
noto bene: The tears of Saint Lawrence, he cried when Sixtus was taken, and now on his day, the Perseid meteor showers are seen, and are also known by that name. Also, when he was martyred people must have noticed the streaks of the comet Swift-Tuttle.