Church of St. Lawrence outside the Walls
An enchanting masterwork of medieval and early Christian architecture.
Shadows and lights fall with a gentle, mysterious touch over ranks of ancient Roman columns,
in the very place where St. Lawrence has been worshipped for almost two thousand years.
On entering St. Lawrence, just beside the ancient cemetery of Verano, you leave behind the modern city and enter a shadowy space, where history takes you by the hand. As you progress along the nave, walking on a magical floor inlaid with the most precious marblestone, you are travelling through a thirteenth-century masterpiece adorned with illustrious, lofty columns, until you reach the core of the early-Christian portion of the church: high up after a flight of steps, you find a treasure of antique architecture, as beatiful as a perfectly preserved Roman temple.
Here everything - capitels and friezes and arched windows - speaks to you about the encounter of ancient gods with the new Christian religion. And it is with a grateful soul for so magnificent a fairness that you leave the church and spend a few minutes in the adjoining medieval cloister: a fascinating place where your heart may find true appeasement and blessing quietness.
Viewing it from a little distance, the whole pile in its grey reverend dignity the row of stones indicating the atrium, with an ancient cross in the centre the portico overshadowing faded frescoes the shelving roof, the body-wall bulging out and lapping over, like an Egyptian temple - the detached Lombard steeple with the magic of sun and shadow, and the background of the Campagna, bounded by the blue mountains of Tivoli together with the stillness, the repose, interrupted only by the chirp of the grasshopper, and the distant intermitted song of the Contadino it forms altogether such a scene as painters love to sketch, and poets to re-people with the shadows of past ages.
Words from The Grand Tour
Augustus J. C. Hare, "Walks in Rome", 1875
Visitor information
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in front of the Cemetery of Verano along Via Tiburtina
Piazzale del Verano, 3 - Rome
Monday to Sunday 07.00/12.00-16.00/19.00
Free entry
To fully enjoy the church's spirit it is best visited in the early morning when no other visitors are present