August 10th is the feast day of St Lawrence, one of the most venerated figures in the Catholic Church, and the patron saint of cooks.
Lawrence was a Christian martyr of Spanish birth, who died in Rome in 258. He was ordained deacon by Pope Sixtus II (r. 257-258) and met his death shortly after the pope's own martyrdom. Lawrence is said the have been roasted alive on a gridiron, a torture he met with equanimity, merely observing, after a while, that he was done enough on one side and it was time to turn him over. Lawrence duly became the patron saint of chefs!
The saint's feast day coincides with the peak of the Perseids, an annual shower of meteors, which have come to be known in Italy as the 'lacrime di San Lorenzo' (tears of St Lawrence).
The Uffizi Gallery is home to a beautiful sculpture of the Martyrdom of St Lawrence (1615-17), the work of the young Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), who was no more than a teenager when he carved this work.
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