Saint Laurence Giustiniani
Jul 10, 2015 / Written by: America Needs Fatima
Feast September 5
Laurence was born of noble parentage in Venice in 1381. His father having died when Laurence was still very young, his mother was left a widow at a very young age indeed.
Rejecting any thoughts of remarrying, she resolutely turned her attention to her own sanctification and her young children’s early training in the practice of virtue.
In this she was aided by Laurence’s innate attraction to all that pertained to God, an inclination of soul he demonstrated from his most tender years. Devoting herself to her children and to works of charity, fasting, assiduous prayer and her own mortification, the young widow was nevertheless perturbed by the extreme severity with which her son treated his body and the continual application of his mind to the exercises of religion.
Religious Life and the Priesthood
In his nineteenth year, she endeavored to divert him from this course by arranging a marriage for him. However, having consulted a reliable spiritual director, prayed earnestly and humbly for light and guidance, and tested his own resolve in the matter, Laurence fled secretly to the monastery of St. George in Alga, on an island situated a mile from Venice.
Here, even his superiors in this austere congregation judged it necessary to mitigate the rigor of his penances as Laurence at nineteen easily surpassed all his religious brethren in his fasts and prayerful vigils.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1406, and much against his will, he was chosen general of the Order, which he governed with exemplary prudence and sanctity. The first thing in which he labored to ground his religious brothers was a profound and sincere humility by which the soul places entire confidence in God alone, the only source of the soul’s strength.
Bishop of Venice
In the year 1433 Pope Eugenius IV obliged Laurence to quit his cloister by appointing him to the episcopal see of Venice. His wisdom, goodness and charity drew crowds of people to him and his humility dissolved all forms of contention and disagreement even among the most proud. The salutary affect of his discourses and example worked as effectively among his people as it had in the confines of his cloister with his brethren: he animated the tepid, filled the presumptuous with a holy fear, raised the fearful to confidence, and inflamed the fervor of all.
On one occasion, overcome by admiration for his sanctity, Pope Eugenius IV saluted Laurence as “the ornament of bishops.” His successor, Nicholas V, in consideration of his sanctity and virtue, transferred the patriarchal dignity from the see of Grado to that of Venice in 1451, making Laurence the first Patriarch of Venice.
A Humble Patriarch
Notwithstanding the dignity this would confer upon the commonwealth of Venice, the Venetian Senate contested it, only embracing it after the bishop personally pleaded with the senators to reject the honor, attesting his willingness to put aside the weight of the office he had carried unworthily for eighteen years rather than to feel his burden increased by the additional dignity.
His pure humility and charity so strongly affected the whole senate that the Doge himself was not able to refrain from tears, and he entreated Laurence to desist from raising any obstacle to the pope’s decree. The installation of the new patriarch was subsequently celebrated with great joy by the entire city.
Laurence died in 1455 at the age of seventy-four. Before his death, he personally gave blessings to all those who had come to visit him in his illness. Canonized in 1690, St. Laurence is also revered for his great works on mystical contemplation.