Martyrs eminently put into practice the essence of Christ's message, love of God and love of neighbor. Their examples are more powerful than words ( Serm. 85.1). Leo tells the story of Lawrence's sufferings: ". . . that fire was less effective which burned on the outside than the one which burned within" ( Serm. 84.4); ". . . even the instruments of torture were transformed into the honor of his triumph" ( Serm. 84.4), and he went, despite the cruelty of his executioner, to the embrace of his God.
SINCE, dearly beloved, the peak of all virtues and the fullness of complete justice is born of that love directed toward God and one's neighbor, this love stands out more sublimely and shines more clearly in the blessed martyrs than in anyone else. By the imitation of his charity and by the likeness to his suffering, they are near to our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for all. It is true that no kindness of anyone at all is able to equal that love by which the Lord redeemed us,1. because it is one thing for someone to die for the just when it will necessary to die any way, but another to die for the wicked when no debt is owed to death.
Nevertheless, the martyrs also have offered much to all people. The Lord used their courage--which he had given them-- in such a way that he wished to make the penalty of death and the torment of the cross not a source of dread to any of his own, but a pattern to be imitated by many. No good people are good only for themselves, and wisdom does not benefit only the person who has it. True virtues have this nature, that they lead____________________