About Villafranca del Bierzo:
The town of Viallaranca del Bierzo is located along the Pilgrim Route of Saint James, approximately 90 miles (145 Kilometers) east of the final destination of the pilgrim route of Santiago de Compostela. Perhaps the most significant site in the town is the Monastery of the Annunciation, which holds the tomb of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi. The Church of Saint Nicolas (Iglesia de San Nicolas) was founded in 1638 and is currently run by the Paulist Fathers. The costs of the original construction were paid by Gabriel Robles, a native son who got rich mining silver in Peru. But perhaps most important for us, the town has a Monastery that holds the remains of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi.
About Saint Lawrence of Brindisi:
Born July 22, 1559, he was originally given the name Julius Caesar. His parents died when young and he he was educated by his uncle at the College of St. Mark in Venice. He had an 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. At age 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 age 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. His profciency in Hebrew was such that the rabbis felt sure he was a Jew who had become a Christian.
He was elected major superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany at the age of 31. 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. He succumbed to illness and died there in 1619.
He was Canonized a Saint by Pope Leo XIII on December 8, 1881.
We celebrate his Feast Day on July 21. In 1959 Pope John XXIII declared him Doctor of the Church.
You can read about his life in greater detail here (external link, this page will stay open)
About the Monastery of the Annuciation in Villafranca del Bierzo:
The tomb of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi is located here in the Monastery of the Annunciation. Saint Lawrence of Brindisi died far from his home in Italy, have succumbed from illness in Lisbon, Portugal.
Address: Pl. de la Anunciada, 24500 Villafranca del Bierzo, León, Spain
Tel: +34 987 54 24 79