Friday, August 10, 2007

Patron Saint of Archivists

This was a post on the archives list this morning.

Deacon Laurence presided over the financial records of the early church in Rome. In 258, the Emperor Valerian confiscated all Church property and summarily executed Pope Sixtus II and seven deacon who were responsible for distributing goods and funds as needed, primarily to widows and orphans. The remaining deacon, Laurence, was charged with providing records of the funds.

As any good archivist, Laurence informed the emperor that such a massive FOIA request would take three days to process. He saw that all remaining funds were spent out and distributed to the poor. When the Emperor demanded to see the wealth of the Church, Laurence presented him with the widows, orphans and other needy Church members and informed him that they were the treasures of the Church. The Emperor was not impressed. He had Laurence roasted alive over a fire on a gridiron. Laurence is reputed to have said, at one point, "You may turn me over; I am well done on this side."

It is traditional to remember St. Laurence with sandwiches of cold cuts on August 10, the day of his demise.