November 14

St. Lawrence O’Toole

Saint Lawrence O’Toole

An Irish will call him Lorcan Ua Tuathali, the french will go withLaurent d’ EU, and the English will simply say, Lawrence O’Toole.Whichever variant you prefer, this Irish saint-prince who became ahostage at ten experienced excruciating difficulties that he knew andunderstood what to be in lack meant.

The Sad Young Prince

Lorcan or Lawrence was born in 1128 at Castledermont Kilkea, Ireland.The youngest of four sons of King Maurice of Hy Murray and motherO’Byrne. The family resided in Maistiu, now County Kildare.

Lawrence’s father fell out with Dermont Mac Murrogh, the King ofLeinster, and in exchange for peace, Lawrence was handed over to KingDermont as a hostage by his father. Lawrence was just ten. In the handsof Dermont, poor Lawrence was treated inhumanly.

For two years, the boy was in chains, ill-housed, and was barely fed.Lawrence’s condition was so pitiful his father compelled the king torelease him to a monastery in Glendalough where he could reclaim him.

Breath of Fresh Air

Lawrence was released to the Bishop of Glendalough, the monastery’sabbot in the County of Wicklow, who cared for him. He received amonastic education and decided to become a monk. His father, on arrival,realized his son had fallen in love with the church, gave Lawrence hisblessing.

For 13 years, Lawrence lived in the monastery, studying and practicing alife of holiness so clear to everyone in his community. The young youthwas a model of virtue. When the Bishop of Glendalough passed away, thecongregation unanimously appointed Lawrence the Abbot of the monastery.Lawrence was just about 25.

Being young and holy definitely came with its perk. Lawrence led thecommunity with so much wisdom and prudence that he was regarded asGlendalough’s greatest abbot since its founder Kelvin. He opened themonastery doors to the poor and people in lack. When famine broke out,he sold the monastery’s properties to cater to the people’s needs.

A Higher Calling Beckons

In 1160, Lawrence was called upon to serve as the bishop of Glendalough,a position he rejected with all humility citing his unworthiness. Still,when the See of Dublin became vacant the following year, Lawrence waschosen as the Archbishop of Dublin.

Lawrence was just about 33 years in 1162 when he was consecrated as themetropolitan See of Dublin. He played a prominent role in the12th-century reformation of the Irish church and encouraged the peopleof Dublin to become true Christians in words and action.

He laid the foundation of Holy Trinity Cathedral, now Christ Church, andinvited Augustinian monks from France to help in the spiritual formationof priests and people of the diocese. Lawrence saw the rebuilding ofmany churches in Dublin.

In all of these, the cares of the needy and poor he never neglected.Dublin was in great economic woes, with some parents abandoning theirchildren. Lawrence set up a care center for the left and orphanedchildren.

Mediator in Politics

When the Anglo-Normans besieged the city of Dublin under their leaderStrongbow, Lawrence braced the odds to go to the enemy camp to negotiatepeace. While he was still talking with the Norman leader, some knightsforcefully entered the city, killing and looting.

Lawrence ran back to the city to stop the slaughter. He administeredspiritual consolation on the wounded, encouraged the city’s defenders,and helped bury the dead. He never gave up until peace was brokered.

As a negotiator, Lawrence was respected by all, Vikings and Normans. Healways comes in when difficult situations arise. In 1179, he led fivebishops to the Third Lateran Council in Rome. Pope Alexander 111,impressed by him, made a Papal Legate.

He made travels suing for peace between countries, especially to Englandunder King Henry 11. In a peace treaty with England in 1180, he tookill.

Peacemaker Until the End

Lawrence arrived in England to settle a dispute between Henry 11 andKing Roderic of Ireland. He was detained at Abingdon Abbey for threeweeks and followed the king to Normandy, still seeking peace. But, KingHenry wouldn’t see him.

It was at Normandy that he took ill and was taken to the Abbey of St.Victor Eu. Lawrence died on 14 November 1180 and was buried at themonastery of Eu, Normandy.

His tomb at Eu soon became a pilgrimage center, and many miracles wereattributed to his intercession.

On 11 December 1225, Pope Honorius 111 canonized him as a saint 45 yearsafter his death.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Lawrence O’Toole

  1. Do you know his favorite place in the world is a Cave between a rock
    and a deep lake near the monastery of Glendalough? Yearly, he took
    off 40 days from his schedule to spend his retreat at the cave.
  2. Lawrence is honored as the Patron of Dublin for his defense and
    protection of Dublin whenever it mattered.
  3. When lawrence finds himself at the dinner table with others, he
    would colour his water to make it look like wine. He doesn’t drink
    and disliked drawing attention to himself.
  4. A man of history. Lawrence was the firstborn Irish Bishop of Dublin.
    Dublin at his time was ruled by the Norwegians and
  5. He stopped a bleeding on his head with holy water and carried on
    with celebrating Mass. This event took place in England. While he
    approached the altar to officiate, he was attacked by a maniac.

Prayer to St. Lawrence O’Toole

There is no official prayer to this saint.