Today is (was) the Feast of St Lawrence. Apart from his horrific and heroic martyrdom (he was rotated on a spit over a fire), St Lawrence is famous for recognising the greatest treasure of the Church.

St Ambrose most notably related the story, but I’ll settle for Wikipedia. After the summary execution of Pope Sixtus, Archdeacon Lawrence, who was the Holy See’s treasurer, was given three days to present the Church’s wealth to the Emperor’s prefect.

He worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said these were the true treasures of the Church. One account records him declaring to the prefect, “The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor.”

Since then, the Church has amassed priceless treasures, like St Peter’s Basilica, Michelangelo’s Pieta, and the Sistine Chapel. But Lawrence’s claim still rings true: the Church’s greatest treasures are the sick and suffering. Maybe someone reading numbers among that group of the physically and mentally ill. Thank you! Your carrying of the cross is not in vain, and your prayers are invaluable. Souls are being saved. God bless you.

Today is (was) also the feast of St Philomena, who no longer features in the liturgical calendar, but still belongs to the canon of saints. Dear Philomena was a great help to me at World Youth Day. I carried a relic of hers on my person at all times, and I’m very certain it was her prayers and intercession which accomplished some extraordinary graces, especially in sacramental confession.

St Philomena is a very powerful intercessor. Since 2008, I have prayed a novena to her several times. In every instance the spiritual favour I sought for someone else — usually conversion — was bestowed sooner or later. I can’t overstate this: if you are in need of extraordinary graces, ask St Philomena to pray for your intentions. Her prayers are very efficacious.