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Legend tells us that as Lawrence was being grilled, he said: “I’m done on this side, turn me over and eat.” If he did say that or the like, it is only by the grace of God. Today, I traveled over to the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls (San Lorenzo fuori le Mura). The original church on this site was built by the emperor Constantine I and several renditions since then. The church that stands today is a very beautiful and ancient church.  The church was bombed during World War II in 1943 and the restoration was not completed until 1948. At the time of restoration, many of the 19th century accretions were removed. Many of the original frescoes were also lost.

The tomb of St. Lawrence is situated under the main altar, with a stairway leading down so pilgrims can pray to the saint. The altar dates back to 1148, and the Paschal candle stand date back to the 12th or 13th century. Both the Ambo of the Epistle and the Ambo of the Gospel date back to the 13th century. The Gospel Ambo was created by the Cosmati Masters.

St. Lawrence was one of seven deacons of Rome, who served under Pope Sixtus II. One of Lawrence’s main task was to care for the Church’s property and the poor. When he was asked to present the Church’s riches, Lawrence said he needed time to collect them. Lawrence arrived without the riches and when they asked where they were, he pointed to all of the poor and said, they are the Church’s riches. With that, Lawrence was place on the grill.




Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls

Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls

The tomb of St. Lawrence

The tomb of St. Lawrence

Tomb of Blessed Pius IX

Tomb of Blessed Pius IX, behind the tomb of St. Lawrence. Highly decorated with rich colored and gilded mosaic.



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About Fr. Jay Finelli

Father Jay Finelli is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence in the state of Rhode Island. He is a webmaster, podcaster, and blogger. In his free time, Father is an avid Live Steam enthusiast.


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