Burned in the Old World - cooled by the waters of the New World - with even the heavens shedding tears for him , St. Lawrence today keeps his lonely vigil in the heart of the Thousand Islands of the Upper St. Lawrence - the River that carries his name.
Born to a simple life Laurentius, as he was first named, was called to follow the priesthood. There his fiery oratory and passion to protect the poor brought him to Bishop-hood under Pope Valerian. His downfall came when he collected, and then, contrary to the demands of the Pope Valerian, distributed to the poor, the wealth of the Church.
Hell had no fury as that of Pope Valerian, who immediately had St. Lawrence roasted over an open spit for disobeying Papal orders. (Please correct what is written about the death sentence of St.Lawrence. He was NOT sentenced to death by Pope Valerian but by Emperor Valerian. Correction, 8/20/2017 )
Legend has grown around this version of the Death of the Saint,, although some early historians claim he was beheaded. It is said that even while being roasted alive, his tenacity showed through as he said to his tormentors - 'You better turn me over, I am done on this side!"
While discredited by the early Church, his works were recognized after his death, when he was elevated to Sainthood for his work with the poor.
Later, as the French explored the New World, Jacques Cartier named the river we know today as the St. Lawrence after him. Little did he realize in the mid-fifteenth century, that he was naming the 5th longest river in the world, one that would become world-famous!
It took several centuries more before the Admiral's fraternity - a well known group of tour boat operators, restaurant and marina operators, ship captains and island owners - to have a statue of St. Lawrence carved and placed on a special promontory just east of the 1000 Islands Bridge near Ivy Lea , Ontario.
The statue, seen only from the water, holds a gridiron over which St. Lawrence was said to have been roasted.
HaL McCarney, a senior member of the Admiral's and founder of Gananoque Boat Line, lived long enough to see one of his pet projects completed before his death in October, 2008.
The Perseids, (the name of a prolific meteor shower), at their strongest just before, and after, the celebration of St. Lawrence Saints' Day on August 11, were named by early adherents as the 'Tears of St. Lawrence. The showers of 'shooting' stars were likened to the shedding of tears by St. Lawrence for his flock.
Today boaters, if they look upward on the bluffs just east of the 1000 Islands Bridge, can get a glimpse of St. Lawrence keeping his eternal watch over the river, and those in his care.
For more information check. National Aeronautics and Space Administration : The 2009 Perseid Meteor Shower
A Fraternity of River Rats – the Admirals by Kim Lunman, August, 2009
By James Morrison
James Morrison is a retired school principal and has also captained boats on the St. Lawrence, and Rideau, and Ottawa Rivers. He received his 'sea legs' with the Royal Canadian Naval Air Arm in the early '60's. He wrote that he can trace his writing start back to the Brockville Recorder and Times and even the Toronto Telegram. He has recently completed a novel in which the action takes place in the Thousand Islands, and is geared to an early Fall, 2010 release.