St. Lawrence County makes up the upper northwest corner of New York State. It is the largest county in New York.
St. Lawrence County is bordered on the west and north by the St. Lawrence Seaway and is home to St. Lawrence University, in the county seat of Canton, and St. Lawrence Central High School, in Brasher Falls. Across the border, in Cornwall, Ontario, you will find St. Lawrence Secondary School.
St. Lawrence County was named for the St. Lawrence River—”discovered” by Jacque Cartier, a French explorer—and on the Feast Day of Saint Lawrence of Rome—August 10—he named a small bay after the saint and cartographers applied it to the River of Hochelaga (Montréal).
Why was Lawrence So Popular?
So, who was St. Lawrence and why was he so popular to have all these places named after him?
Lawrence was a deacon in Rome, under Pope Sixtus II, in 258 AD. Lawrence was in charge of taking care of the needy and poor. The Roman Empire was ruled by Emperor Valerian, a pagan, from 253 to 260 AD. Valerian was the first emperor to be taken prisoner by the Persians and would die in captivity around 264 AD.
Valerian persecuted the Christians and required the clergy to worship the pagan Roman gods. On August 7, while Sixtus was preaching, Roman soldiers broke in to his chapel and took Sixtus to his death. He was beheaded on August 7, 258. As Sixtus was led to his execution, Lawrence wept and exclaimed, “Father, where are you going without your deacon?” Sixtus replied that he was not leaving Lawrence behind, as he would follow in three days.
Sixtus was correct.
St. Lawrence Gets Grilled
Lawrence was ordered to bring the treasures of the Church to the Roman authorities. He, instead, gathered all the poor in the city and brought them and explained that they were “the treasures of the church.”
Of course, this was not a satisfactory response and Lawrence was sentenced to death by being strapped to an iron grill, or “gridiron,” and slowly roasted to death.
Lawrence, it is said, told the authorities that he was “done on this side” and requested that he be flipped over to continue his roasting on the other side. “It is cooked enough,” he replied as death took him. St. Lawrence, one of the more popular saints, is the patron saint of the poor (of course) and of cooks (ironic).