St. Laurence was born July 22, 1559, and from an early age showed an inclination for a monastic life. To encourage this his pious parents placed him in the Franciscan convent at Brindisi. Being left an orphan when quite young, he went to Venice, where his uncle, a man of great learning and much interested in our Saint, was Superior of the College of St. Mark. When not quite sixteen Laurence was attracted to the Capuchins, then in their first fervor, and on February 18, 1575, he joined that Order. Applying himself diligently to study, he became a finished Hebrew scholar. At the close of his scholastic career he was ordained a priest.
He visited nearly all the important cities of Italy, everywhere winning souls to God, and continued this missionary journey until he was recalled to fill the Chair of Theology. Subsequently he was placed in charge of the Convent of the Holy Redeemer at Venice, and afterwards made Superior of the house at Bassano. In both these positions he showed such great administrative ability, that in 1596, when barely thirty years of age, he was chosen Provincial of Tuscany.
In 1596 Laurence was named Definitor General, and was about to make a visitation of the Capuchin houses throughout Sicily, when Pope Clement VIII., at the request of the Emperor Rudolph II., ordered him to Germany, there to found houses of his Order, . . . and within a year had founded houses in Vienna, Prague, and in Gratz.
When the election for General took place he found to his great dismay that, although not fifty-three years of age, he had been elected General of the Capuchins, the highest office in his Order.
Some idea of the love felt for our Saint may be formed from what took place on his last visit to Milan. He was obliged at frequent intervals to mount the pulpit and give his blessing to the vast crowds that came from far and near to hear and see him, and as he left the city the people gathered round him, weeping and clamoring for one more blessing, until at last he was obliged to turn back. . . . “Bless the shepherd as well as his flock,” cried the Archbishop, Cardinal Borromeo, brother of St. Charles; and kneeling humbly with the people, he, too, received our Saint’s blessing.
On July 22, 1619, his busy life was brought to a close.
Illustration and text from Pictorial Lives of the Saints With Reflections for Every Day in the Year (New York: Benziger Bros., 1922).