Many of you will recognise this image of San Lorenzo, to be found on a wall on Fondamenta de L’Osmarin, Castello.
When you do an internet search for him, you find that he goes by several names, in various parts of the world. I’ll stick with San Lorenzo, since that is the name he answers to in Italy. Well, answered to, he’s been dead for a number of years. (Since 258, in fact.)
He was one of seven Deacons under Pope St. Sixtus, and was sentenced to death by the Prefect of Rome. His death apparently took the form of being burned (or grilled) to death. This explains why he is typically shown with a gridiron.
He must have been a brave man, the story goes that he said to his assassins “Turn me over. I’m done on that side.”
Anyhow, if you are a cook or a chef, this is your go-to Patron Saint, and his feast day is 10 August.
I’ve been asked what he is holding in his right hand. Some images show it to be what could be garlic. If that is so, there’s another link with the cooks/chefs in our lives. I have also read that he was entrusted with the Holy Chalice, used at the Last Supper, so that could be what we see in this relief. Next time I go past here, I’ll take a closer look, unless someone comes up with the definitive answer in the meantime.
There is a church bearing his name not far from this bas-relief, the Chiesa San Lorenzo. It has been closed for many years, but now, the government of Mexico has a 9 year “lease” on it, for use during the Biennale, with the proviso that they restore it.
You can read about the church, and see some photos of the interior on Jeff Cotton’s excellent site: http://www.churchesofvenice.co.uk/castello.htm (Just scroll down to, and click on San Lorenzo.)
So there you go, your dose of religious education for today. You’re welcome.