San Lawrenz

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San Lawrenz

San Lawrenz is a village situated in the west of the island of Gozo. The village is built upon a flat surface surrounded by three hills - Ta' Ghammar, Ta' Gelmus and Ta' Dbiegi. The latter is 195 metres above sea level and boasts the highest point in Gozo. San Lawrenz also has within its territory the beautiful Dwejra Bay which is renowned for its unique ecological aspects, not only recognised by all Gozitans and locals but also internationally.

The 1995 census established the population of the village to around 552 people. Up to the Second World War the majority of the locals were farmers. Today many of the locals are either employed by the government or are self employed

    

The San Lawrenz coat-of-arms consists of a golden shield on which there is the symbol of an iron grid with two palm leaves on each side. The historian Bezzina described the palm leaves as symbolic of martyrdom while the iron grid represented the manner in which the Patron Saint of the village was put to death. The motto of the village is "Dominus protectio Mea" which means "The Lord is my Shield".

The parish of San Lawrenz was founded on March 15, 1893. Before this date the village was known as Ta' Ċiangura. Probably the name reflected that of a family or a nickname of someone with close relationship with the locality. It is not known when the village was established, however some documents mention Ta' Ciangura before the Great Siege of Gozo which occurred before July 1551.

San Lawrenz is one of two villages named after a saint in Gozo. The other one is that of Santa Lucija. By the 4th century AD the devotion towards Saint Lawrence had spread worldwide and also reached our shores. By the end of the middle ages there were three churches dedicated to Saint Lawrence, one inside the Citadel, one near Ta' Ghodlien and another at Ta' Ciangura. The village assumed the name from the church.

Lawrence was born in a holy and noble family in 226 in Huesca of Aragon in Spain. Sixtus II, the archdeacon of Rome invited Lawrence to accompany him to Rome to continue his studies for the priesthood. In 257 Sixtus became Pope and appointed Lawrence as archdeacon and as his vicar.

Lawrence became responsible for all the treasures owned by the church. When Valerian learnt that Lawrence was the custodian of all church treasures, he sent Cornelius, the Prefect of Rome to arrest him. The Prefect ordered Lawrence to hand over all the treasures of the church. Lawrence therefore assembled all the sick and poor of Rome and told the prefect "these are the authentic treasures of the church". Lawrence was beaten up and suffered further torture. He refused to pay homage to the pagan gods and he remained strong in the faith.

In the end Lawrence was burnt on an iron grid on August 10, 258, four days only after the death of Pope Sixtus II.