In The Catholic Church, The Patron Saint Of Cooks And Chefs Is Also The Patron Saint Of?
Like many interesting tales, our story today has one part fact mixed with one part murky historical legends to yield one complete serving of a very interesting bit of trivia that explains how cooks, chefs, and comedians have the same patron saint in the Catholic (and other Christian) traditions.
During the third century, Saint Lawrence served as one of seven deacons in Rome under Pope Sixtus II. He was martyred during the persecution of Christians by order of Roman Emperor Valerian in 258 AD. That’s our firmly anchored bit of truth. He was a deacon who was put to death for his religious beliefs and then later, through the process of canonization, elevated to sainthood in the Church.
That, however, doesn’t really explain why he became the patron saint of cooks, chefs, and comedians, especially when there was nothing particular in his day-to-day life that stood out in regard to those professions. The source of the associations stems from the alleged manner of his death. Part of his official role as the archdeacon was to oversee the assets of the church in Rome. When he was taken in as part of the Emperor’s grab for political power and money, the government naturally wanted to collect all the assets of the church.
When Lawrence appeared to mock the Prefect of Rome by insisting the riches of the Church were the poor and faithful, so the story goes, he ordered that Lawrence be roasted on a great gridiron over a bed of hot coals. Lawrence allegedly quipped after some time, “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!” Apocryphal in nature or not, the line was witty enough to make St. Lawrence a shoe-in for patronage of cooks, chefs, and comedians.
Image courtesy of Workman/Wikimedia.