The 6th century mosaic in the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura (Basilica of St Lawrence Outside the Walls), commemorates the eponymous saint and the building of the church in his honour by Pope Pelagius II (r. 579-90).
The mosaic, which is set in the triumphal arch, cannot be seen from the nave; it can only be viewed from the choir. The explanation for this lies in the reorienting of the church in the 13th century.
Christ sits on the blue globe of the firmament; he holds a staff in his left hand and his right hand is raised in blessing. Christ is flanked by six figures. To the left stand St Peter, St Lawrence and Pope Pelagius II, who holds a model of the basilica. To the right are St Paul, St Stephen (some of whose relics are kept in the church), and St Hippolytus, who, according to legend, was St Lawrence’s jailer.
At a lower level are the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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