Nicholas Herman was born in Lorraine province, France in about 1605; he came from a humble background and was an unlearned man. He was converted in 1629, and after being a soldier and a footman for some time, he entered the religious community of the Carmelites in Paris in about 1649. It was there, as a lay brother, that he took the name of Brother Lawrence. He remained in the community until his death in 1691. While in the community he worked most of the time as a helper in the kitchen; it is in this specific surrounding that he became known for his simple, practical faith.