A friend posted a Facebook comment wishing me well in the upcoming Host with the Most Competition. She concluded it with “St. Lawrence pray for us.” I didn’t quite get the reference, which made me curious enough to type “St. Lawrence patron saint of” into Google.
His name was familiar. When my wife and I lived in a cheap, rent-controlled apartment in Alexandria, we attended St. Lawrence the Martyr Catholic Church. Our daughter was baptized there.
Obviously, I had suspected that Lawrence might be the patron saint of comedians. He is and he’s the patron saint of cooks too. What amazed me was the story of his life and death. Legend has it that Lawrence was roasted over an open fire. Before dying, he quipped that one side was done and that his tormentors should turn him over. Even if the story is exaggerated, it shows that the people who named Lawrence the patron of comedians had a sense of humor themselves.
Prior to reading about St. Lawrence, I had assumed that a comedy “roast,” such as those at the Friars Club, was a play on the word “toast.” For example, the emcee is called roastmaster as opposed to toastmaster. I found information online about the history of celebrity roasts but nothing about the origin of the name. Now I am wondering if the word roast actually refers to St. Lawrence being roasted on a gridiron. After all, the Friars use religious titles such as Abbot, Dean and Prior for their leadership.