St Laurence healing oil
The healing oil is dedicated to St Laurence as one of the most venerated Roman martyrs celebrated for his Christian valour. He is the patron saint of the poor and of cooks.
Saint Laurence was one of seven deacons in charge of giving help to the poor and needy. Under Pope Sixtus II who were martyred during the persecution of Emperor Valerian in 258.
His Early Life
Laurence is thought to have been born on December 31, AD 225 in Valencia, or less probably, in Huesca. The town from which his parents came in the later region of Aragon. That was then part of the Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis. The martyrs Orentius and Patientia are traditionally held to have been his parents.
Laurence encountered the future Pope Sixtus II. Who was of Greek origin and one of the most famous and highly esteemed teachers, in Caesaraugusta. Eventually, both left Spain for Rome. When Sixtus became the Pope in 257, he ordained Lawrence as a deacon, and though Lawrence was still young appointed him first among the seven deacons who served in the cathedral church.
St Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, notes that Roman authorities had established a norm according to which all Christians who had been denounced must be executed and their goods confiscated by the Imperial treasury. At the beginning of August 258, the Emperor Valerian issued an edict that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death. Pope Sixtus II was captured on 6 August 258, at the cemetery of St Callixtus while celebrating the liturgy and executed forthwith.
St Laurence Death
On 10 August, Laurence the last of the seven deacons, and therefore, the ranking Church official suffered a martyr’s death.
The life and death of Deacon Laurence speaks the timeless message of the Gospel to all who will listen. Whether we are ever called to shed our blood in what has traditionally been called red martyrdom or simply called to offer our sacrifices daily in a continuous life of poured-out love, traditionally called white martyrdom, we continue the redemptive work of the Lord through our daily Christian lives and participation in the life of the Church.
Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Prayer and a gesture of faith, like applying the oil, are important ways for us to express our faith in God’s power. By doing so we place our trust in God.
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