Catholic Dictionary




The fifth of the major basilicas of Rome. Emperor Constantine erected a church on this site in A.D. 330 over the graves of St. Lawrence and St. Cyriaca. It was remodeled in the sixth century and again in the thirteenth century, and the portico was added. Modern paintings looking like mosaics adorn the façade. The vestibule has many sarcophagi with high relief embellishing them, also frescoes around the walls with stories depicting St. Lawrence, St. Stephen, and Hippolytus. The campanile dates from the twelfth century. In the interior the nave and side aisles are of thirteenth-century construction – grand with their twenty-two antique columns, modern paintings of St. Lawrence and St. Stephen, and the mosaic floor. Here too is the crypt containing the bodies of Lawrence, Justin, and Stephen under the high altar, with its magnificent canopy. In the near vicinity the pilgrim sees the tall column with the martyred deacon on its top.