Our St. Lawrence Coin is a replica of an artifact depicting St. Lawrence’s martyrdom on the 10th of August, 256 AD. On that same date in 1535, Jacques Cartier became the first European explorer to navigate the St. Lawrence River, thus naming the river after the saint. Upon entering the great waterway for the first time Cartier witnessed the magnificent Perseid meteor shower which is prominent in the northern skies during the month of August. These prolific shooting stars are sometimes referred to as the “burning tears of St. Lawrence” since they coincide with St. Lawrence's day of martyrdom. St. Lawrence is remembered for his courage, selflessness, generosity, and dedication to those in need. A more detailed history is provided below.
- sterling silver or 14k yellow gold
- coin is about the size of a quarter
- handmade in the USA
As a Deacon of Rome, St. Lawrence was responsible for distributing alms to the poor. During the persecution of the Christians led by the Roman Emperor Valerian, St. Lawrence was ordered to surrender the wealth and treasures of the church to the emperor. Instead of complying, St. Lawrence gave all the treasures away to the poor in an act of defiance. When summoned and confronted by the Prefect of Rome, St. Lawrence famously presented the poor, the crippled, and the suffering, declaring, “The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor. Behold in these poor persons the treasures which I promised to show you; to which I will add pearls and precious stones, those widows and consecrated virgins, which are the Church's crown.” The Prefect was so angered that he condemned St. Lawrence to a slow and painful death by roasting on a gridiron. After suffering on the hot coals for some time, legend has it that the martyr cheerfully exclaimed, “Turn me over, I’m well done on this side!” Thus derives his patronage of chefs and comedians.
The feast of St. Lawrence is celebrated on his day of martyrdom, the 10th of August, which happens to coincide with the Perseid meteor shower in the Northern hemisphere. For this reason the prolific shooting stars are sometimes referred to as the “burning tears of St. Lawrence.” Because of the clear air and distance from bright city lights the Perseids are highly visible in the Thousand Islands during the month of August. In fact, French explorer Jacques Cartier arrived at the river in 1535 on the Feast of St. Lawrence and the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. Of course at that time the land along the river had long been inhabited by the Iroquois. However, as the first European explorer to navigate up river and beyond the gulf, he aptly named the body of water after the saint.