San Lorenzo in Damaso
Archeologic evidence suggests the site, like many loci for Roman churches, may have housed a pagan temple. The first documentary evidence of a church at this site is the reference in the synod of Pope Symmachus (499) of a Titulus Damasi. According to tradition, in the 380s a basilica church was built by Pope Damasus I in his own house. This church is one of many dedicated to the Roman deacon and martyr Saint Lawrence, including the more ancient and then extra-urban, San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, that was rebuilt by the same Pope Damasus. The original basilica for San Lorenzo in Damaso was demolished by Cardinal Raffaele Riario, a nephew of Pope Sixtus IV who commissioned the imposing Renaissance-style Palazzo della Cancelleria (1489–1513). The palace was built using spolia and stone from nearby Ancient Roman buildings, including the Colosseum and enveloped the new church of San Lorenzo under the right wing; the entrance is located at number 1, Piazza della Cancelleria, on the right flank of the facade.
The architect of the church, like that of the palace, is unclear. The palace design has been attributed to Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Baccio Pontelli, while Titi suggests Bramante, and other authors had cited Giuliano da Sangallo and Andrea Bregno. reconstruction of the church is also independently attributed to Bramante by Titi.
The last restoration was necessary after a fire that damaged the basilica in 1944.
The interior decoration was begun by commissions by the resident of the Palace, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, in the late 16th century. The walls of the right counterfacade were painted by Cavaliere d'Arpino. The main altar has a canvas depicting Saints and Coronation of Mary by Zuccari. The altar is set above the relics of Saints Pope Eutychian and Pope Damasus I. To the left of the altar is a copy of a statue of St Hippolytus of Rome; the original is a restored antique statue in the Vatican Library. Legend holds that Hippolytus was converted to Christianity by the dint of St Lawrence.
This copy was commissioned for the church by Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. The portal was designed by Vignola. Immediately to the right of the entrance is the memorial to Alessandro Valtrini, a minister of Pope Urban VIII, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1639. The second vestibule has statues of Saints Francis Xavier and Charles Borromeo by Stefano Maderno.
To the right of the entrance is a chapel designed by Nicola Salvi, commissioned by Cardinal Tommaso Ruffo in the late 18th century. The ceiling is frescoed with Glory of San Nicola by Corrado Giaquinto, and the altarpiece of Virgin with Saints Filippo Neri and Nicolò was painted by Sebastiano Conca. To the left of the entrance is the Chapel of the Sacrament, commissioned by Cardinal Ottoboni and frescoed by Andrea Casali. The altarpiece is a Last Supper by Vincenzo Berrettini
The second chapel to the right has the tomb of Pellegrino Rossi, the last minister of the Papal States under Pius IX, by Pietro Tenerani. His murder in 1848 in the adjacent palace was one of the events that led to the ensconcement of the pope in the Vatican City, and the annexation of the Papal States to the Kingdom of Italy.
A further chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of the Agonizing Jesus, and contains a portrait of Pope Leo XIII proclaiming the statutes of the Pious Union of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the chapel's 19th century architect Vincenzo De Rossi Re. The founding of this fraternity was celebrated in this church in 1883.
The chapel of the Santissima Concezione completed and frescoed (1635–1638) by a young Pietro da Cortona. Other works include the monument of Cardinal Trevisan (1505).
- Titi, Filippo (1763). Descrizione delle Pitture, Sculture e Architetture esposte in Roma. Marco Pagliarini, Rome. pp. 121–124.
- V. Forcella, Inscrizioni delle chese e d' altre edifici di Roma, dal secolo XI fino al secolo XVI Volume V (Roma: Fratelli Bencini, 1874), pp. 163-218.
- This may in fact be Pietro da Cortona.
- Titi, page 122.