St Lawrence

Our church is named after Laurentius, Deacon of Rome, who was killed on the orders of the persecuting Roman Emperor Valerian, in 258 AD. St Lawrence Laurentius was responsible for looking after the church's charitable funds, and the plates, bowls, and candlesticks used in Christian worship in Rome. After he was arrested, the Roman Emperor demanded that he hand over this "treasure". Laurentius asked for a few days to gather the treasure, which he was allowed. He went and hid the treasure, gathered a crowd of poor people around him, and returned to the Emperor. On being asked for an explanation, he gestured to the poor, and said that here were the true treasures of the Church. The enraged Emperor ordered that Laurentius be executed. The traditional story is that Laurentius was executed by the unusual method of being roasted alive on a large gridiron. This is why the symbol of St Lawrence (and of churches, like ours, dedicated to St Lawrence throughout the world) is a gridiron. However, it is possible that this derives from a mistranslation of the phrase, "he suffered". In any event, Laurentius bravely suffered a painful death to keep the Church going in a dark hour, and he has consequently been honoured by Christians ever since, especially on his feast day - 10th August. St Lawrence 2 Why was St Lawrence in particular chosen for the naming of our church and parish? He may have been chosen because the church was dedicated on his feast day, but we do not know when St Lawrence was dedicated. The earliest documentary record of the church is in 1194, but we know it had already existed for several decades at the least. Alternatively, he may have been chosen because Laurentius was buried just outside the city walls of Rome, at what became the famous church of St-Lawrence-extra-Muros (which you can still see today). The city walls we see today had yet to be built, but the church still stood just beyond what were felt to be the bounds of the city. The church was founded by the Chapter of York Minster as a centre of mission to which other churches and chapels to the south-east of York would look as a sort of mother-church, and perhaps this association was part of their bold statement of intent. Hopefully we can draw inspiration from that vision, as well as from the bravery of Laurentius, today!

An active Church of England church in York, between the busy University of York campus and the ancient city walls – serving the Parish of St Lawrence -with-St Nicholas with Christian prayer, worship, fellowship, hospitality, and charity.