Portico of the Catholic Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda and its
foundation was built in 141 AD as part of the pagan temple of
Antonin and Faustina. The temple was originally dedicated to Emperor
Anthony Pius in honor of his wife Faustina. After his death, the
Romans decided to add Anthony Pius to the assembly of the gods. San
Lorenzo or the Church of St. Lawrence was built much later, as a
tribute to St. Lawrence, who was said to have been sentenced to
death at this place.
Temple of Antonin and Faustina
The temple of
Antoninus and Faustina was built in 141 AD. Emperor Antonin Pius and
was originally dedicated to his deceased and deified wife Faustina
the Elder. When Antonin Pius was deified after his death in 161 AD,
the temple was renamed the Temple of Antonin and Faustina at the
initiative of his successor, Marcus Aurelius. The building stands on
the high platform of large blocks. Two initiatory inscriptions read:
"Divo Antonino et Divae Faustinae Ex S.C." or: "Divine Antonin and
divine Faustina by the decree of the Senate." Ten monolithic
Corinthian columns reach a height of 17 meters (56 feet). Rich
bas-reliefs of the frieze under the eaves, griffins and candelabra
were often copied in other buildings from the sixteenth to the
Church of San Lorenzo in Miranda
pagan temple was converted into a Roman Catholic church, the church
of San Lorenzo in Miranda, possibly already in the seventh century,
but only the work of the 11th century by Mirabilia Urbis Roma is
confirmed. "Miranda" may occur on behalf of the benefactor. It was
believed that this temple was the seat of the sentence of St.
Lawrence, the deacon and martyr executed by order of the prefect of
Rome, hence the dedication of the Christian church.
Christianization of the pagan explains the survival of the colonnade
and portico of the temple over the centuries, although not all the
ancient building has survived to this day. Marble cladding cella was
destroyed. Deep cavities in the columns of the temple are supposed
to have been added in the Middle Ages. Apparently these are traces
of attempts to disassemble a portico, or to destroy a pagan temple.
However, these works stopped. In the Middle Ages, the staircase was
built on the side facing the Forum, but now it is impossible to
enter from it, because there is a gap of about 6 meters (20 feet)
between the step and the bronze door. Before the archaeological
excavations the ground level was at this door. Excavations in front
of the temple were undertaken in 1546, again in 1810 and at
intervals from 1876.
In 1429 or 30 years, Pope Martin V gave
the Church of the College of Degli Special (College of Chemists and
Herbalists), then officially named “Universitas Aromatorium”. The
college still uses the adjoining building, which houses a small
museum, which holds a receipt for medicines, signed by Raphael.
After that, side chapels were installed. The church lacks the usual
eastern apse: it was never added to preserve the structural
integrity of the temple.
The church of San Lorenzo in Miranda
was partially destroyed, and in 1536 the side chapels were
dismantled to restore the ancient temple for the Roman visit of the
Roman emperor Charles or Charles V. The church was reconstructed in
1602 by Orazio Torriani, who created a single nave and three new
chapels . On the main altar there is a cross-shaped canvas by Pietro
da Cortona, dedicated to the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence (1646), and
in the first chapel on the left are Domonicino Madonna with the
Child and Saints (1626).