San Lorenzo in Panisperna
San Lorenzo in Panisperna, or San Lorenzo in Formoso, is a church on Via Panisperna, Rome, central Italy. It was built on the site of its dedicatee's martyrdom.
Panisperna most probably refers to the tradition of the Poor Clares in the adjacent convent of distributing bread and ham (pane e perna) on 10 August, Lawrence's feast day, in remembrance of his distributing funds from the church to the poor. Formoso refers to Pope Formosus who built the first attested church here.
Tradition states that the first building was constructed during the reign of Emperor Constantine I, only 100 years after the martyrdom of St. Lawrence, though the first written evidence is from 1300, when Pope Boniface VIII rebuilt the church and annexed an abbey to it. That abbey was given to the Benedictines in 1451, and then had the Poor Clares settled in it by Cardinal Jacopo Colonna in 1896, who also restored the church and monastery. The Franciscans now serve the church. In the fifth century, this church was one of Rome's Stational Churches visited by the Pope on its titular day: the Thursday of the first week in Lent. Recent popes have revived this ancient custom.
The present church is a result of a rebuilding by Carlo Rainaldi in 1575–1576, under Pope Gregory XIII. It was at this time it became known as 'in Panisperna' rather than 'in Formoso', and that the present facade was built. A new outer portico was added in the 17th century, then restored and decorated with images of Sts Lawrence and Francis of Assisi in 1893–1894 by Pope Leo XIII who in 1843 had been ordained bishop in this church. Leo also added a steep flight of steps in front of the church, leading to a tree-lined courtyard. There is a modern bronze statue of St Bridget of Sweden here.
A medieval house is preserved next to the church with an exterior staircase, one of the few such houses to have been preserved in Rome.
The church has a single nave with three chapels on each side.
- South side
- Includes a painting of St Clare of Assisi (1756) by Antonio Nessi, and a ceiling fresco of Glory of St Lawrence by Antonio Bicchierai.
- Contains the tomb of the brothers St Crispin and St Crispinianus, with a painting by Giovanni Francesco Romano.
- Painting of the Immaculate Conception by Giuseppe Ranucci.
- North side
- Painting of Stigmata of St Francis by Niccolò Lapiccola.
- Chapel of St Bridget, where she was buried before her body was moved to Sweden. She had used to beg for alms for the poor outside this church, and prayed before the crucifix by the high altar. Now, a martyr named Victoria lies underneath the altar in the chapel. The painting of St Bridget Praying before the Crucifix is by Giuseppe Montesanti, and was painted in 1757.
- Includes an 18th-century crucifix of the Roman school.
Under its porch is a chapel containing the oven said to have been used for St. Lawrence's martyrdom. A late 16th-century fresco of the Matryrdom of Saint Lawrence stands behind the high altar (by Pasquale Cati, a mediocre pupil of Michelangelo). The crucifix by the high altar is from the 14th century.
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