Lesser-Known Roman Churches, Part VI

For the whole series, click here.

Excuse the delay in posting another installment in this series; I finally got out today and got some new photos!

Today we look at the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro, or in English, St. Savior’s at the Laurel Tree. Apparently the name of the church comes from the fact that there used to be a laurel tree nearby (probably before there were so many buildings in the area) that was used as a point of reference for locals.

This imposing church is located in the historic center of Rome, between Piazza Navona and Castel Sant’Angelo (the castle near the Tiber River, also near St. Peter’s Basilica), just off the beautiful street called Via dei Coronari. The name of the street (Coronari) comes from the type of shop that was originally located on it: sellers of sacred objects to pilgrims, such as rosaries (corona = rosary/chaplet). Today that type of shop is no longer to be found, but instead there are many antiques dealers (selling amazing old artwork, marble items, etc.) and other interesting boutiques. It is great street to stroll down if you’re heading from the Piazza Navona area over towards St. Peter’s.

First things first, on Via dei Coronari just as you are reaching the church, there is a very good gelateria (ice cream shop) that sells homemade, all-natural gelato, in many interesting flavors. It is called Gelateria del Teatro:

Apparently they even have pumpkin flavored gelato right now.

Now to the church. Here is the view of it from the little square  that is in front of it (which is really a parking lot – a relatively rare site in Rome):

An ex-monastery is attached to it. It’s not possible to see the dome really in this picture, but it has a fairly large dome.

This church has I think six side chapels – three on each side of the nave (the main seating area). When you walk in, the first chapel to the right has this life-sized sculpture of St. Padre Pio helping Christ bear his cross:

It also seems to double as a shrine to assorted houseplants.

Here is the view of the nave, looking towards the sanctuary. On the apse (the back wall), above the high altar, there is a precious statue of Our Lady of Loreto, to whom the church is also dedicated. The feast day was celebrated recently.

The church is in very good condition, due to the care its good pastor has dedicated to it.

One of the other side chapels on the right side is dedicated to Blessed, soon-to-be Saint, Pope John Paul II:

The glass case in front of the altar contains third-class relics, i.e. items that he used, such as a zucchetto (skull cap) and a chasuble.

Here is a closeup of the small statue of Our Lady of Loreto that is above the high altar. As a rule, these Marian images, often the focus of great devotion, are usually quite small!

It’s a so-called “Black Madonna” and child, and there is a sort of garment “dressing” the statue and enveloping them both. I don’t know much about the history of this image, but apparently it is quite old, dating from the mid-17th century.

Here we have the angels above the high altar ensemble, reminding us about our Savior’s cross, by which we were saved:

Angels are watching you.

Finally, the central chapel on the left side has a shrine to Padre Pio in it. The various cases have first, second, and third-class relics, including blood from his stigmata and a stole that he wore:

It’s nice and decorous and everything but it’d be nice if it were set up in a way so as to make it possible still to celebrate Mass on the altar!

There is much more that I could have photographed in this beautiful church. It is open most days in the morning and then again a bit later in the afternoon, like a lot of the churches here in Rome.

Address/Info:

Chiesa di San Salvatore in Lauro
Piazza di San Salvatore in Lauro, 15
00186 Rome, Italy

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