Thursday, February 14, 2008

Stational Church: San Lorenzo in Panisperna

On this first Thursday of Lent, the stational church is San Lorenzo in Panisperna, dedicated to St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr of the 3rd century. Tradition claims that the first church was raised by Emperor Constantine.

San Lorenzo in Panisperna is located on the Viminal Hill amidst the ruins of the Terme Olimpiadi, the traditional site where St. Lawrence suffered martyrdom. Though Franciscan nuns now serve the church, formerly it was served by the Poor Clares, who were visited frequently by Saint Bridget of Sweden and her daughter, Saint Catherine of Sweden. The name Panisperna, however, is rather under dispute. It could stem from the union of two families whose names were “Panis” and “Perna.” The name could also originate in a dole of bread and ham (pane e perna) distributed by the monks of the church’s abbey or the Poor Clares, perhaps on August 10th of every year, the feast day of Saint Lawrence. Boniface VIII raised the church in the thirteenth century to a higher level; unfortunately, none of the older building is to be seen now.

The crypt encloses the place where Saint Lawrence is said to have suffered. Under the porch is a chapel where an oven believed to be the one on which St. Lawrence was roasted alive is kept. Also here are the crucifix which spoke to Saint Bridget and relics of Saint Lawrence, Bridget, Crispin and Crispinian (patrons of shoemakers).

You can see Santa Maria Maggiore's dome right of center.

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