Pope Benedict visits St. Lawrence outside-the-walls – video

Today the Holy Father visited the parish San Lorenzo fuori le mura, St. Lawrence outside-the-walls.  This is a Minor Papal Basilica, rather than a Major, but it is an extremely important church in the history of Rome and our Roman liturgy.

As a deacon I once had the privilege of singing the Gospel from the ancient ambo of this basilica.  The mortal remains of Bl. Pius IX are venerated here.  The basilica is next to a great and ancient cemetery.  It was also here, during WWII that Pius XII came when some bombs had been dropped on Rome.  There are famous photos of that moment.


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  1. Flabellum says:

    There were 7 candles on the altar, but I didn’t spot a crucifix in the clip – does the altar have a suspended crucifix or was there simply nothing suitable available? [Nothing suitable? At San Lorenzo?]

  2. PMcGrath says:

    OK, I’ll bite: Why is San Lorenzo fuori le mura “an extremely important church in the history of Rome and our Roman liturgy”?

    Also: Is San Lorenzo the “stational” church of the day, and is that why Pope Benedict visited it?

  3. Fr. BJ says:

    Flabellum, there was, in fact, a crucifix on the altar. See this photo:

  4. PMcGrath: That is a good question! No, St. Lawrence is not the station today, but the Sundays of Advent do have Roman station churches assigned. Today’s station is St. Mary Major.

    St. Lawrence at Verano, or outside-the-walls is the station for Septuagesima in the old calendar, the 3rd Sunday of Lent and, once during the Octave of Easter, I don’t remember which day. The 3rd Sunday of Lent was an important day in the preparation of candidates for baptism in the early Roman Church. Catechumens were taken there, to the tomb of the martyr who died so horribly and who was so venerated by the Romans, a “scrutinized” to see if they were really committed to be baptized and live a Christian life.

    But we must be careful when talking about the Church or Basilica of St. Lawrence in Rome, since there are several and they are also stations.

    San Lorenzo fuori le mura
    San Lorenzo in Lucina
    San Lorenzo in Damaso
    San Lorenzo in Panisperna

    You can see from the number of ancient churches dedicated to St. Lawrence how greatly the early Roman Christians esteemed him.

  5. Flabellum says:

    Thank you Fr BJ, the clip only had a passing shot, I’ll look again – I did think it rather odd if there wasn’t. St Lawrence was martyred in August 258 so this is the 1750th anniversary year – I guess they had to take the Sunday that the Papal Office of Liturgical Celebrations offered.

  6. Maureen says:

    ‘Catechumens were taken there, to the tomb of the martyr who died so horribly and who was so venerated by the Romans, and “scrutinized” to see if they were really committed to be baptized and live a Christian life.’

    Yeah, I bet they were really grilled….

    Seriously, that must have been really amazing, to perform a deacon’s functions at the church of one of the greatest deacons ever to live and die.

  7. George says:

    Why was Pius XII taken here during the bombings?

  8. Tina says:

    I have a question.
    What is meant by stations and churches being stations? I’m guessing it is not stations of the cross…


  9. Flabellum says:

    Stational Mass of the Bishop of the Diocese

    From the Ceremonial of Bishops, 119-122, 1179:

    The preeminent manifestation of the local Church is present when the bishop, as high priest of his flock, celebrates the Eucharist and particuarly when he celebrates in the cathedral, surrounded by his college of presbyters and by his ministers, and with the full, active participation of all God’s holy people.

    This Mass, which is called the stational Mass, shows forth the unity of the local Church as well as the diversity of ministries exercised around the bishop and the Holy Eucharist. Hence, as many of the faithful as possible should come together for a stational Mass. Priests should concelebrate with the bishop; deacons should assist in the celebration; and acolytes and readers should also carry out their ministries.

    The form of the stational Mass should be retained . . . during pastoral vistitations. The stational Mass should be a sung Mass, in accord with the provisions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

    It is preferable that, as a rule, at least three deacons, properly so called, assist in a stational Mass: one to proclaim the Gospel reading and to minister at the altar, two to assist the bishop. If there are more than three deacons present, they should divide the ministries accordingly. At least one of these deacons should be charged with assisting the active participation of the faithful [for example, the singing of the congregation].

    The bishop . . . should be received in a manner suited to the circumstances of the place and the situation. If this seems appropriate, the bishop may be solemnly received and greeted by the clergy at the door of the church. But the bishop may even be escorted to the church with festive song, when this is feasible and appropriate. A dignified solemnity in receiving the bishop is a sign of the love and devotion of the faithful toward their good shepherd.

  10. Pius XII was not ‘ taken’ there.When he heard of the bombing he went there together with his secretary Achbishop Montini,the future Pope Paul VI, and consoled the people.According to Paul VI,when they got back in the car he (Montini)noticed that the cassock of the Pope was covered with blood.

  11. Hugo says:

    Why isn’t Pio Nono burried at St. Peter’s?

  12. Sid says:

    To attempt an answer to Hugo’s question: It is my understanding that Bl. Pius IX, given the suffering which he had to undergo at the hands of Italian nationalism, identified with the two major martyrs: Stephen the Protomartyr and Lawrence, Rome’s most famous martyr. So Bl.Pius wished to be buried near the two martyrs. I might be wrong about this.

    My own question: Why is St. Stephen the Protomartyr not buried at San Stefano Rotondo?

    BTW, it’s quite worthwhile to visit San Lorenzo Outside the Walls. Grab the tram in front of Santa Croce to get there. Very curious and interesting architecturally, two churches really backed into each other. And the mosaic is one of the most beautiful in a city of outstanding mosaics. Also Alcide De Gasperi, with Adenauer the greatest Christian Democrat leader, is buried there. The religious significance of the church needs no mention.

  13. Louise says:

    I was in Rome in April 2002. I had heard that this was one of the most important Basilicas in Rome, and yet I found that it was most neglected looking of any church in Rome that I had seen so far, and I had seen about 40 or 50 churches by then. There was none of the excitment, life, and color of the other churches in Rome. St. Lawrence was dark, dreary, and in serious disrepair from what I could see. There was no one there on this cold and wet afternoon, and the church was so dim nothing much could be seen. To the right of the main altar, I noticed the grill-gate leading down was slightly ajar, and I dared to push open the gate and go down. Far ahead I could see a light, and I walked towards it. Rounding a corner, I came to the doorway of one of the most glorious sights I have ever seen! There, totally unexpected, was the most beautiful room I have ever seen… and to my great delight there was POPE PIUS IX there in a glass casket! Every square inch of the room was made of tiny mosaics, the lights were blazing, and the room just sparkled! To suddenly go from the depressing darkness and disrepair of the Basilica with no expectations of anything else, to suddenly being in the most beautiful place of light and beauty with a Blessed Pope’s body right there was just the most amazing thrill – the highlight of my trip.

  14. PaulMac says:

    Is that a BLUE chasuble that I see? Perhaps we can now regard blue as a de facto liturgical colour.

  15. josephus muris saliensis says:


  16. I know that Saint Lawrence and Saint Stephen are buried there, but I also noticed on the engraving above the entrance to the confessio that it mentions a priest martyr named Justin. Is he buried there too? I read another entry about a priest martyr named Justin whose relics were transferred to Germany or Austria, but it didn’t say from where.

  17. Bro. David says:

    did the Holy Father incense all around the altar, or just from the one side. From the clip, the impression is given that he remained on the one side….. hmm… interesting!

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