Thursday, October 12, 2006

San Lorenzo in Miranda - Roman Forum

San Lorenzo in Miranda, formerly the Temple of Antonius and Faustina - Roman Fourm

This photo of the San Lorenzo in Miranda is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of Rome. There are over 100 images taken from around Rome linked to an interactive map.

Full 360° panorama of San Lorenzo in Miranda

San Lorenzo in Miranda (aka: Temple of Faustina and Antonius) is found in the Roman Forum about half way along the Sacra Via. This area is often full of people snaking their way along the paths behind tour guides waving various umbrellas and sticks in the air as group markers. The lines are so long that some guides have resorted to wireless headsets to communicate, meaning that those at the end must surely by one or two sights behind the current commentary.

San Lorenzo in Miranda started off as the Temple of Antonius and Faustina, and is one of the best preserved temples in the Forum. It was built around 140 and dedicated to Empress Faustina and then to her husband Antonius Pius after his death in 161.

In may have become a church in 7C, and is thought to be the place where S Lorenzo (St. Lawrence) was sentenced to death during the persecution of Christians by Valerian in 258. He is often portrayed as being burnt alive in a gridiron and his death may have had a profound impact in Rome furthering Christianity. This persecution also resulted in the crucifixion of Sixtus II the bishop and pope of the time. The Miranda part of the name may be either recognition of a benefactor at the time, or a derivation of ‘admire’ referring to the view over the Forum from the top of the steps.

The front shows the original pagan dedication DIVO ANTONINO ET / DIVA FAUSTINAE EX S(ENATUS) C(ONSULTO) (to the divine Antoninus and the divine Faustina by decree of the Senate). This is very unusual for a converted temple, normally evidence of pagan worship was destroyed, and the columns show marks of chains which were at one time used to try to topple them. The reconstructed flight of stairs up the front of the church may allow access to the pronaos and the pillars, but access to the interior is from the rear, through the College of Chemists and Pharmacists.

Unfortunately the church is often closed, though if you manage to get inside (possibly from 10-12 on a Thursday) you will find a single nave under a white barrel-vaulted ceiling with 3 side chapels. Above the high altar is the Martyrdom of St Lawrence by Pietro da Cortona, painted 1636-1646. This is framed by an aedicula of four black marble columns.

Full panoramas from the Roman Forum are found on the Rome tour by An enlargement of this photo can be found on Flickr.

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