|San Lorenzo in Lucina|
|English name:||St Lawrence's at Lucina|
|Dedication:||St Lawrence the Deacon|
|Built:||4th century, restored several times|
|Artists:||Bernini, Carlo Saraceni|
|Address:||16/a Via in Lucina|
San Lorenzo in Lucina is an ancient parish and titular church and minor basilica dedicated to St Lawrence, the 3rd century Roman deacon and martyr. It is at Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina 16/A, just west of the Corso in the rione Colonna. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons. 
The church was, according to tradition, built in the 4th to 5th centuries on a domestic property that once held the titulus in Lucina. Pope St Damasus was elected here in 366, and it is mentioned in an entry in the Liber Pontificalis for Pope Sixtus III (432-40) as Titulus Lucinae. The church on the present site was restored by Pope Benedict II in 685, and the reference to the work in the Liber describes the church as appellatur Lucinae ("called Lucina") which is the earliest reference to the name as certainly applied to this church. The name "Lucina" most likely came from an early Roman matron; the hesitation in fixing the earlier titulus at the present site is that we know that such sites changed at other churches such as Santa Prassede. Pope Adrian I commissioned another restoration in 780, and there had to be another one in the middle of the 9th century after the Tiber flooded the area twice.
After damage by the Normans in 1084, Pope Paschal II ordered the church to be completely rebuilt in 1112. He enshrined the relics of Pope St Alexander and St Pontian, a Roman martyr (not the pope of the same name), as well as part of the gridiron on which St Lawrence was allegedly roasted. The finished building was consecrated in 1131 by an anti-pope called Anacletus, and Pope Celestine III reconsecrated it on 26 May 1196 after it was finally decided that the original consecration was probably invalid.
The interior was re-ordered in 1650 by Cosimo Fanzago, when the church was granted to the Minorites or Order of Clerks Minor Regular, nicknamed the Caracciolo or Adorno Fathers. He divided the aisles into self-contained chapels, and also carried out a minor restoration on the façade. (The Minorites transferred to Sant'Angelo in Pescheria in 1906.) A drastic restoration in 1858 ordered by Pope Pius IX removed much of the Baroque decoration that Fanzago provided.
Continued problems with groundwater penetration entailed yet another restoration in 1919, with attention being given to the campanile, and to try and solve the difficulty permanently the foundations were excavated. This work revealed remains of Roman houses from the reign of Emperor Hadrian and an apartment complex, or 'insula', on top of them from the 3rd century. The fourth century church was revealed as having been built within the ruins of this.
The Italian government restored the façade to what was imagined to have been the medieval appearance in 1927. The previous frontage is shown in the 18th century Vasi engraving (link below).
The present titular is Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don.
The structure of the open narthex is largely as it was after the 1112 rebuilding, and has a sloping tiled roof held up by six re-used ancient granite Ionic columns supporting an entablature. The architrave of the latter is of veined white marble, while the frieze is of tiles laid on edge. In the frieze there is a trapezoidal stone above each column. The cornice is dentillated, and the corners of the narthex have square Corinthinan pilasters.
Before the 20th century restoration removed it, there used to be a solid parapet with flaming urns, one above each column. Also, some time before the 18th century the two outermost bays of the narthex were walled off and made into little cottages or lodges. These were removed in the 19th century.
The nave frontage above the narthex is Mediaevalist-modern. It is of orange brick with stone detailing, and has a framed round window flanked by a pair of vertical rectangular ones. On top there is a blank triangular pediment. Before the restoration, the window frames were narrower and the rectangular windows had segmental pediments broken at the top.
The Romanesque brick bell-tower was added in the 1112 rebuilding, and was placed over the right hand aisle just behind the narthex. Of the five storeys above the narthex, the lower two have double arches (the bottom ones blocked), and the upper three have triple ones with marble pillars in between having imposts. On the other side of the nave, the strange little domed lantern belongs to the first chapel on the left.
The original monastery of the Clerks Regular survives next to the church, of 1665 by Carlo Rainaldi.
The narthex contains three very interesting inscriptions recording the restoration work done by Popes Paschal II (dated 1112) and Celestine III (1196) as well as by Antipope Anacletus (1130). There is also a pair of genial-looking medieval stone lions flanking the door and guarding their lunches, one with a fish and the other with a human baby. Fragments of mediaeval architectural details are also kept in the narthex, displaying fine Cosmatesque work. The doorway itself is original 12th century.
In the rebuilding of 1650, the aisled basilical plan was destroyed and the side naves were replaced by Baroque chapels, which were then leased to noble families to decorate and to use as mausolea. This was done by inserting walls behind the arcade piers. The arcades themselves have solid square piers with imposts. The flat ceiling is coffered in squares, gilded and decorated with rosettes and has a painting of the Apotheosis of St Lawrence in the central panel. This ceiling was made in 1857, under Pope Pius IX.
Guido Reni's Christ on the Cross can be seen on the high altar, which also has six Corinthian columns of black marble. Below the altar is an reliquary in which is preserved the gridiron that St Lawrence was allegedly martyred on. The marble throne of Pope Paschal II, in the apse behind the altar, has an inscription recording the placement here of the relics of St Lawrence.
The Capella Fonseca, fourth on the right-hand side, was designed by Bernini for Gabriele Fonseca, who was Pope Innocent X's (1644-1655) physician. The chapel has some fine busts by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, including a portrait of Fonseca to the left of the altar. This chapel also contains a painting by Giacinto Gimignani entitled Elisha Pouring Salt Into the Bitter Fountain that dates to 1664.
The second chapel on the left-hand side has an altarpiece by Carlo Saraceni.
The fifth chapel on the left-hand side was designed and decorated by Simon Vouet. His two paintings depict St Francis of Assisi; one shows his clothing in the religious habit, the other his temptations.