All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page revised in May 2010.
S. Lorenzo in Panisperna (Book
8) (Day 3) (Map
A3) (Rione Monti)
In this page:
The plate by Giuseppe Vasi
S. Lorenzo in Panisperna
S. Lorenzo in Fonte
The Plate (No. 152)
Viminal is the least known of the seven hills of Rome; it is situated between the Quirinal and Esquiline hills, but especially today it is easily identifiable only in Via Panisperna. In this etching Giuseppe Vasi shows the eastern section of the street between S. Lorenzo in Panisperna (on the Viminal) and S. Maria Maggiore (on the Esquiline); the western part of the street links S. Lorenzo in Panisperna with S. Bernardino ai Monti (on the Quirinal).
The view is taken from the green dot in the small 1748 map below.
In the description below the plate Vasi made reference to: 1) First entrance to the church; 2) Part of the nunnery; 3) S. Maria Maggiore;
4) Palazzo Cimarra. 3) is shown in another page. The small map shows also 5) S. Lorenzo in Fonte.
The view in March 2010 (at different hours of the day)
Some buildings along Via Panisperna and the first entrance to the church were modified in the late XIXth century, but overall the view is almost the same. According to tradition panisperna is a reference to panis (bread) and perna (ham) which were distributed by the nuns on August 10, St. Lawrence's Day, but there are many other possible explanations.
S. Lorenzo in Panisperna
(left) Fašade; (right) main door
The first church was probably built at the time of Emperor Constantine on the site of St. Lawrence's martyrdom; the church was rebuilt in the XIVth century together with a large nunnery which was assigned to the Poor Clares. The fašade was redesigned in 1574, while the elaborate door is a work of the second half of the XVIIth century
The nunnery and several houses belonging to it have tablets or decorations showing a gridiron, a reminder of the cruel way St. Lawrence was put to death (see a page on the iconography of saints). The image used as background for this page shows a relief in the courtyard preceding the church.(left) Bell tower; (centre) detail of the wooden door showing (left) St. Lawrence and (right) St. Francis; (right) tablet on a nearby building indicating it belonged to S. Lorenzo in Panisperna (to see similar tablets click here)
You may wish to see the church as it appeared in a 1588 Guide to Rome.
(left) Palazzo Cimarra; (right) XVIIIth century building in Via S. Agata dei Goti
Palazzo Cimarra was built in 1736; it is attributed (without specific evidence) to Ferdinando Fuga who at that time was working at nearby Chiesa del Bambin Ges¨. In the last years of the XVIIIth century it became the residence of Count Sousa Holstein, Portuguese Ambassador in Rome, whose son Pedro became a famous statesman. Notwithstanding the commanding view of its loggia over most of Rome, the palace eventually was used as barracks for the Papal Zouaves, a corps of infantry founded in 1861, whose members came mainly from France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The neighbourhood has several other interesting XVIIIth century buildings and Palazzo Falletti along Via Panisperna has an elegant fountain in its courtyard.
S. Lorenzo in Fonte
(left) S. Lorenzo in Fonte; (right) its weathervane
According to tradition St. Lawrence was imprisoned in the dungeon of the house of Hyppolitus, a Roman centurion.
In the dungeon there was a small spring (fonte) of water, which was used by St. Lawrence to baptize another prisoner, a
blind man who recovered his sight. The miracle convinced Hyppolitus to embrace the Christian faith and for this he was put to death. Probably because his name could mean loose horse, Hyppolitus was tied to two or four horses that dragged him to death; he is the patron saint of horses.
A church was built above the dungeon and it was dedicated to Lawrence and Hyppolitus; it was rebuilt in the XVIth century and its fašade was redesigned in the XIXth century.
You may wish to see S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura, the large basilica which was built above the tomb of the saint.
Excerpts from Giuseppe Vasi 1761 Itinerary related to this page:
Chiesa di s. Lorenzo in fonte, e strada della suburra
Si dice questa contrada la nuova suburra, a distinzione dell'antica, che era presso
la chiesa de' ss. Pietro e Marcellino, e per˛ vi fu posta quivi sul cantone una
insegna formata in marmo. La strada, che siegue dritta, porta al monastero di s.
Lucia in Selce, e a s. Martino ai monti, e poi alla porta s. Lorenzo; voltando per˛
per la strada, che sta incontro alla detta insegna, che dicesi Urbana, si trova in
primo luogo la chiesa di s. Lorenzo in Fonte molto celebre, perchŔ eretta nella
prigione del Santo, in cui s. Ippolito cavaliere Romano, convertito alla Fede dal s.
Diacono, fu battezzato nel fonte miracolosamente ivi sorto, come si vede espresso
nel quadro sull' altare maggiore da Gio. Batista Speranza, il quale fece il resto
delle pitture, fuorchŔ un s. Vescovo, e s. Francesco, per essere opera del Cav.
d'Arpino, e le pitture nella prima cappella sono del Cipolla.
Chiesa di s. Lorenzo in Panisperna
Dopo la suddetta chiesa camminando a destra, ci viene di prospetto la
villa di Sisto V. a destra la tribuna della basilica di s. Maria Maggiore,
e a sinistra il detto monastero colla chiesa. Questa fu eretta nel luogo delle
terme Olimpiade, ove il s. Diacono fu arrostito sulla graticola, acci˛ si
conservasse la memoria del suo martirio. Era prima una delle 20. badie privilegiate di
Roma, e fu molto frequentata da s. Brigida, mentre stette in Roma. Ora vi sono le
religiose di santa Chiara, le quali hanno adornata la chiesa di marmi, stucchi
dorati, e pitture; Pasquale Cati vi dipinse il prospetto dell'altare maggiore;
Cherubino Alberti il s. Francesco; e Cesare d'Arpino la s. Brigida, lo
sposalizio della ss. Vergine, e la volta della chiesa.
Next plate in Book 8: S. Silvestro in Capite
Next step in Day 3 itinerary: Porta S. Lorenzo
Next step in your tour of Rione Monti: Chiesa e Monastero dei SS. Domenico e Sisto