You might call it the Perseid meteor shower, but it’s also known as las lágrimas de san Lorenzo,
the tears of St. Lawrence. Here in Madrid, Spain, we’ve been celebrating the fiesta of Saint Lawrence since Thursday.
Saint Lawrence was born in Huesca or Valencia, Spain, in 225 A.D. and martyred in Rome during the persecution of Emperor Valerian in 258. He had been ordered to turn over the Church’s wealth to the imperial treasury, but instead he distributed it to the poor. According to tradition, he said they were the real treasure of the Church.
Some stories say he managed to send the chalice used in the Last Supper, the Holy Grail, back to Spain. It eventually wound up in the Valencia Cathedral. (I’ve seen it.)
For his disobedience to the Roman Empire, tradition says he was killed on about August 10 (calendars weren’t always accurate in ancient times) in an especially gruesome torture. He was placed on a large gridiron over a fire, and despite his pain (and perhaps tears), at one point, he said, “I’m done on this side. Turn me over.” For this, he is the patron saint of cooks, chefs, the poor, and comedians.
The streets of the Lavapies neighborhood of Madrid, where the fiesta de san Lorenzo
is centered, will be filled long past midnight tonight with lights, music, dancing, carnival games, food, and drink. People in traditional Madrid costumes will swagger through the crowds – the costume isn’t complete without a streetwise attitude. A religious procession for San Lorenzo will pass through Lavapies this evening, and neighborhood clubs will give the devotees free limonada,
Madrid lemonade, which is sangría made with white wine.
My husband and I went there last night and hoisted a couple of local micro brews, ate some Indian food (these days, Lavapiés is a very multicultural neighborhood), and enjoyed the music of ElZurdo.
I hope you see a meteor flash by.
— Sue Burke