San Lorenzo (Saint Laurence/Lawrence)

Many of you will recognise this image of San Lorenzo, to be found on a wall on Fondamenta de L’Osmarin, Castello.

When you do an internet search for him, you find that he goes by several names, in various parts of the world. I’ll stick with San Lorenzo, since that is the name he answers to in Italy. Well, answered to, he’s been dead for a number of years. (Since 258, in fact.)

He was one of seven Deacons under Pope St. Sixtus, and was sentenced to death by the Prefect of Rome. His death apparently took the form of being burned  (or grilled) to death. This explains why he is typically shown with a gridiron.

He must have been a brave man, the story goes that he said to his assassins “Turn me over. I’m done on that side.”

Anyhow, if you are a cook or a chef, this is your go-to Patron Saint, and his feast day is 10 August.

I’ve been asked what he is holding in his right hand. Some images show it to be what could be garlic. If that is so, there’s another link with the cooks/chefs in our lives. I have also read that he was entrusted with the Holy Chalice, used at the Last Supper, so that could be what we see in this relief.  Next time I go past here, I’ll take a closer look, unless someone comes up with the definitive answer in the meantime.

There is a church bearing his name not far from this bas-relief, the Chiesa San Lorenzo. It has been closed for many years, but now, the government of Mexico has a 9 year “lease” on it, for use during the Biennale, with the proviso that they restore it.

You can read about the church, and see some photos of the interior on Jeff Cotton’s excellent site:   (Just scroll down to, and click on San Lorenzo.)

So there you go, your dose of religious education for today. You’re welcome.


Filed under Venice

14 responses to “San Lorenzo (Saint Laurence/Lawrence)

  1. Ciao, Daniela. That movie looks interesting, but it’s not available in Australia, unfortunately.


  2. August 10 in Italy is a special night: in fact, in that period you can see many falling stars. Of course it’s better to chose a place without light. From Venice sometimes we go to Dolomites to see them better. The “Notte di San Lorenzo” is the night of the falling stars (it’s also the name of a wonderful movie by Taviani bros.set during the World War 2 with the soundtrack by Nicola Piovani).


  3. Bert

    There is a legend that Lorenzo was given the Holy Chalice for safe-keeping. So he is sometimes shown with a drinking-vessel. But that’s a very odd-looking cup, if that’s what it is. Perhaps that remark on the grid-iron is why he’s also the patron saint of comedians.


  4. Thanx Yvonne……missed you…AGAIN….in Venezia!!!!


  5. JoanneH

    Look like a cup to me and the nuns back in the dark ages when I was in school always stressed he was shown with cup.


  6. I have a picture of the interior of the church also on my blog as it was open when I was there in November. I really went to see the cats (Dingo has cat houses there) and lucked out that the church was open. It’s in my November 24 post Dove Il Gatto.
    Quite interesting. Yes, Yvonne you will have to take a closer look at him.


  7. PhilJ

    And if anyone’s in Venice before the 24th Feb, there’s the chance to see the recently restored “Martyrdom of San Lorenzo” by Titian at the Accademia. It will ultimately return to its home at the Gesuiti, but it might be going on tour to various other galleries before then (there’s a bit of bad feeling about this as the picture is supposedly quite fragile and some experts believe it really shouldn’t be travelling).


    • Hmm, now I do happen to know of someone who will be able to see that Titian. 🙂 Thank you for alerting me to that, Phil.

      Gosh, I hope the painting will survive its role as a tourist


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