Born Julius Caesar Russo, Saint
Lawrence entered the Venetian province of the Capuchin Friars in 1575. Ordained
in 1582, having completed his ecclesiastical studies as well as becoming most
proficient at Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French. Lawrence
began to preach throughout Northern Italy and beyond. His success at preaching
is attributed to his extensive use of Sacred Scripture. Between 1599 and 1613
Lawrence established the Order in Bohemia, Austria and Germany, thereby
reclaiming many souls from Protestantism. He also displayed his skill as a
diplomat when in 1614 he was able to restore peace between France and Spain. In
fact, it was in true Franciscan fashion, as a missionary of peace, that he
finally died at Lisbon while on a mission to Spain on behalf of the oppressed
people of Naples.
Lawrence was for the majority of his
Capuchin life a major superior in which office he continually strove to
stabilize the Order, balancing the rigor of primitive Capuchin life with the
needs of the time. He is likewise remembered for his great theological work
"Opera Omnia" of fifteen tomes in size and characterized yet again by
the prolific use of Scripture.
In the life of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, we see a man full of the courage and
daring of Christ whose spirit carried him throughout the long and arduous years
that he was engaged in a most trying apostolate. Of him, it can be truly said
that he possessed the special gifts that adorned the Churches' first Apostles
and men were moved to the practice of virtue more by his example than by his
words. Especially noticeable in Laurence's approach to life was his spirit of
fortitude which enabled him to announce the Good News fearlessly and constantly,
even among the very Jews of Rome.
Lawrence's power and effectiveness as
a preacher which was witnessed to the Christian life derived from the intense
interior life he managed to observe during the course of his busy life. The two
great loves of his life were the Mass and the Blessed Virgin.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice was the centre of his existence; he had on rare
occasions been known to spend up to four hours saying Mass and in 1610 in Genoa
on Christmas Day, he took a staggering 16 hours celebrating in Ecstacy, weeping
with love and adoration. Also extraordinary was Lawrence's love for Mary, from
whom he attributed receiving his vocation, his success in the apostolate and
especially his knowledge of Hebrew. He regarded Mary as the font of Mercy and
the kindest of Mothers.
It belonged to Pope John XXIII in our own day and age to further honor this
amazing son of St. Francis by proclaiming him Doctor of the Universal Church.
Our Lord chooses the humble of the earth to confound the proud. In St. Lawrence
of Brindisi, he called a humble son of St Francis to further increase the light
of Christ in the world by his powerful preaching and prolific writings. His
feast is celebrated on 21st of July.