The small church of San Lazzaro dei Lebbrosi is located in Rome (Borgo San Lazzaro), on a side street of Via Trionfale. It was the last resting place for pilgrims travelling along Via Francigena towards the desired goal, the St. Peter's Basilica, and it was annexed to a leper hospital.
Its origin dates from the late 12th century, when a French pilgrim became sick with leprosy and miraculously healed in Monte Mario. For the grace received he wanted to build an hospice for patience with leprosy and other contagious deseaes near a church dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene.
The leper hospital financed itself only through charity but in 1645 Innocenzo X Pamphilij declared its annexing to the hospital of Santo Spirito in Saxia.
In 1937 the leper hospital next to the church came totally down because of a thunderstorm. Fortunately the church is still solid and it's interesting to visit it for the role it had for centuries.
The importance of the church is confirmed by two important features. First of all, it was the place where the popes, who were elected outside Rome, wore the miter and the cope to go in a solemn procession to St. Peter's. Furthermore, it was the place where the emperors, who went to Rome in order to be crowned by the Pope, waited for the papal messengers.
The only remains of the medieval structures are the old cloister and the austere and simple church in Romanesque style. The church has a span-roof façade with a small bell-gable, a portal with a marble frame, a rose window and two single-lancet windows. Concerning the inside, the plant is a basilica with three naves of six columns (three on each side), coming from buildings of the ancient Rome. The walls are made of stone and unplastered bricks and the roof is trussed. There are traces of tombs and an interesting fresco representing God the Father, with the inscription "Salvator mundi salva nos".
Through this walled up door the church was directly connected to the leper hospital.
On the back there might be noticed the deep ancient foundations and a well-kept garden with the plants that are mentioned in the Bible.
Belove the altar it's interesting to see what probably is an ancient baptisimal font.
- Photos and main text by Chiara Innocenzi moc.liamg|izneconni.rhc#| and Licia Maria Celani moc.liamg|inalec.airamaicil#| (November 2016)
- Locate the item on this Google Map
- Pio Abresch, Chiesa di San Lazzaro dei lebbrosi o Extra Pomerium, stampato in proprio, Roma 1999