One of the oldest churches in Rome, the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Lucina has a simple porticoed facade that almost gets lost amongst the tony boutiques and bustling cafes that crowd its eponymous square. But step beyond the modest Romanesque exterior and experience the layers of history inside, from the Roman to the baroque. The Basics
San Lorenzo in Lucina has been standing since the fourth century, and it is believed to have been built on an ancient temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Juno. Today, the church is a minor basilica dedicated to Saint Lawrence, a Roman martyr, and little of its original architecture remains. Instead, the building mixes everything from repurposed Roman columns and a 12th-century portico and bell tower to an ornate 17th-century baroque interior with a few 19th-century frescoes interspersed.
See the basilica on walking or Segway tour of early Christian churches and sites, including San Clemente and the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. As San Lorenzo in Lucina is in Rome’s historic center, pair a visit of the church with a tour of nearby highlights, including Piazza di Spagna and the Trevi Fountain.
Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Wear comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen on walking tours of Rome.
- Catholic churches in Rome require modest attire to enter: Knees and shoulders must be covered.
- Photography without flash is permitted inside the church.
- The church is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
- Those interested in the historic Catholic church appreciate the relics of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence) housed here.
Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina and its church are located just off the Via del Corso in Rome's historic center, within walking distance from Trevi Fountain and Piazza di Spagna. When to Get There
Rome is a popular tourist destination, and its main sights can be crowded in summer. Quieter churches like San Lorenzo in Lucina offer a welcome respite during the midday hours when the Vatican and Colosseum are packed. Who Was Lucina?
The basilica’s name is a mystery, as no one is sure who Lucina was. Some believe she was a pious patrician woman whose home was used as a church, called a “domus ecclesiae.” That said, Lucina was also a name used for Juno, Roman goddess of heaven and protector of Roman women, and it is likely that the church was built on the site of a shrine dedicated to the pagan deity.