The Seven Churches Pilgrimage: Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls

In this sixth episode of a special seven-part series, we take you on a spiritual journey through the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome to learn more about the history, art, architecture, and spiritual wealth of each of these storied places of worship, continuing with the Basilica of Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls.

By Sr. Gini George, SSpS

Our next station is the Basilica of Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls.

Rich in history and art, it is a unique place that implants a sense of peace and immanence.

After the apostles Peter and Paul, St. Lawrence is regarded as the most prominent of all the martyrs of Rome.

St. Lawrence was a Roman deacon under Pope Saint Sixtus II.

He suffered martyrdom in the year 258 during the persecution of Emperor Valerian.

As a deacon, Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church and the distribution of alms to the poor.

When Lawrence knew he would be arrested, he sought out the poor, widows, and orphans of Rome and gave them all the money he had on hand, selling even the sacred vessels of the altar to increase the sum.

According to tradition, he was roasted to death on a gridiron.

From oratorium to Basilica

The basilica dedicated to him began its existence as a small oratorium, built in the 4th century by the Emperor Constantine, on the spot where the saint was buried.

Towards the end of the 6th century, Pope Pelagius II had an actual church constructed at this site.

In the 13th century, it was Pope Honorius II who had a new church built, in front of the existing structure.

The two churches were later united into one structure and many other modifications were carried out through the following centuries.

The crypt contains the remains of St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, and St. Justin.

The pilgrimage to this basilica helps us to reflect on the fact that following Christ is not a sad journey full of suffering, but the discovery of real joy and true freedom.

St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, St. Justin, and the hundreds of martyrs have shown us the way.

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08 October 2022, 07:00