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San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura

San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura (99)

The basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le mura is one of the most important in Rome, and forms part of the group of seven churches of pilgrimage and one of the five patriarchal basilicas. This building is situated outside the outer wall of Rome and behind what is called the Cemetery of Summer.

Saint Lawrence was one of the most venerated martyrs of Rome, most certainly because he suffered a particularly cruel death: they burnt him alive on a grill in 258 AD. Thus when they buried him in a catacomb outside the city, pilgrims began to come en masse to worship him.

It was Emperor Constantine who decided to build a basilica in his honour on the site of his tomb. This basilica would be rebuilt in 576 by Pope Pelagius. Out of interest, the current church of San Lorenzo is the joining of this old basilica with a 5th-century church dedicated to Mary that was built just beside it. 

However, there was an event that particularly affected San Lorenzo fuori le mura, and that was the Second World War. The allied bombing in this period seriously damaged the church, which had to be restored. 

The most outstanding elements in the basilica are, firstly, its doorway, with frescos representing the life of Saint Lawrence and Saint Stephen. Then there is its magnificent presbytery and its Corinthian columns. You should also, moreover, visit the basilica crypt, which possesses the tombs of Saint Lawrence, Saint Stephen and Saint Justine.

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