Yet another station church dedicated to Saint Lawrence! The fourth, for anyone counting.
The fourth century pope, Pope Saint Damasus, built a church here over his former home. The church was known as Titulus Damasi and was one of the first twenty-five parishes of Rome. The church is now named Saint Lawrence in the House of Damasus.
Pope Damasus had a strong devotion to the Church’s martyrs and was well known for his work in building great shrines over their tombs in the catacombs. He even worked to have the water in the Vatican crypts drain properly so that the bodies would not be affected by the dampness.
Pope Damasus is also the one who commissioned his secretary, one Saint Jerome, to make an accurate Latin translation of the Bible. At the time, there were multiple translations and the Holy Father wanted one that was correct and standard. In large part, through Saint Jerome’s work we have the Vulgate, or the published version.
In the late fifteenth century the basilica was torn down to make room for a palace for Raffaele Cardinal Riario, the person credited with bringing Michelangelo to Rome. He commissioned Donato Bramante, the original architect of Saint Peter’s Basilica, to help with the project. The church we see today was built into the Cardinal’s palace.
Saint Bridget of Sweden stayed in this palace and would often spend time in prayer at this church.
Pope Saint Damasus is buried under the main altar.