Saint of the day:
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi
Patron Saint of Brindisi, Naples, Italy
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi’s Story
At first glance, perhaps the most remarkable quality of Lawrence of Brindisi is his outstanding gift of languages. In addition to a thorough knowledge of his native Italian, he had complete reading and speaking ability in Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish, and French.
Lawrence was born on July 22, 1559, and died exactly 60 years later on his birthday in 1619. His parents William and Elizabeth Russo gave him the name of Julius Caesar, Caesare in Italian. After the early death of his parents, he was educated by his uncle at the College of St. Mark in Venice.
When he was just 16, he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Venice and received the name of Lawrence. He completed his studies of philosophy and theology at the University of Padua and was ordained a priest at 23.
With his facility for languages Lawrence was able to study the Bible in its original texts. At the request of Pope Clement VIII, he spent much time preaching to the Jews in Italy. So excellent was his knowledge of Hebrew, the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.
Lawrence’s sensitivity to the needs of people—a character trait perhaps unexpected in such a talented scholar—began to surface. He was elected major superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany at the age of 31. He had the combination of brilliance, human compassion, and administrative skill needed to carry out his duties. In rapid succession he was promoted by his fellow Capuchins and was elected minister general of the Capuchins in 1602. In this position he was responsible for great growth and geographical expansion of the Order.
Lawrence was appointed papal emissary and peacemaker, a job which took him to a number of foreign countries. An effort to achieve peace in his native kingdom of Naples took him on a journey to Lisbon to visit the king of Spain. Serious illness in Lisbon took his life in 1619.
In 1956, the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of Lawrence’s writings. Eleven of these 15 contain his sermons, each of which relies chiefly on scriptural quotations to illustrate his teaching.
Monasterio de La Anunciada
(Monastery of the Annunciation)
Plaza Anunciada 1
24500 Villafranca del Bierzo, Spain
*St Lawrence of Brindisi died in Lisbon, Portugal. Shortly thereafter, his body was carried to Spain and brought to this city.
His remains are now enshrined within this monastery.
Polpette al Brindisi
1 pound ground pork
1 cup soft breadcrumbs, soaked in 3/4 cup milk or water, squeezed dry
3/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
6 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, several grinds
Olive oil, for frying
3 cups chopped kale
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the meatballs:
Combine the pork, breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and garlic in a mixing bowl. Mix in the egg. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil and using about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture, form a flat patty and fry it. My grandmother always did this before she formed all the meatballs to taste for seasoning. Now, taste. This is the time to add a bit more salt and/or pepper if needed.
When you are happy with the seasoning, form the mixture into small ovals about the size of a walnut. Using a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and fry the meatballs over medium-high heat until cooked through. Transfer to a platter and set aside while you prepare the sauce.
To make the sauce:
Add about a tablespoon of oil to the pan and saute the onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add the kale and cook until tender. Stir in the tomato sauce, beef stock and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes. Add the cooked meatballs and simmer until they are heated through.
To serve, spoon sauce in shallow bowls and top with meatballs.
Serve over orecchiette pasta.