ARCHITECT, Italian
(active 580s in Rome)

Interior view

580s
Photo
San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, Rome

The church was built in the 13th century during the reign of Pope Honorius III (1217-24). Parts of the previous building by Pelagius II (579-590), erected close to the grave of the martyred St Lawrence, were integrated into the church, including the presbytery pictured here. St Lawrence was the subject of special veneration, and this basilica numbered among the Sette Chiese (Seven Churches), the most important of Rome's sacred Christian sites.

The influence of the Byzantine occupation of Rome is apparent in the restrained style of the basilica, arranged on two levels, with a narthex and matroneum (women's gallery), where fine classical materials (columns, capitals, and architraves) have been reused. The capitals of the matroneum are surmounted by cushion-shaped impost blocks supporting the arcades.

Today the original basilica commissioned by Pelagius forms the presbytery of the existing thirteenth-century church. The floor level is considerably higher than that of the original church and the orientation has been inverted. Although the old apse does not survive, the mosaic of the vault above it does. On what is now the chancel arch, it includes Pelagius as donor, holding a model of the church and presented to Christ by St Lawrence.

View the ground plan of the building.




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