The Battle of Saint Queintin was won by the Savoy on the 10th of August 1557, the feast day of St Lawrence. In commemoration, Emanuele Filiberto had the Church of the Holy Mary and Crib (formerly Madonna of the Snows) restored and rededicated to St Lawerence. The design and construction of the Church was given over to Guarino Guarini, a Theatine priest from Modena in 1666. Guarino Guarini celebrated the inaugral mass on the 11th of May 1680.
With a façade very much cohesive with the other civil buildings of the Piazzetta Reale, the Royal Church of San Lorenzo is distinguished by it's cupola.
The mian entrance to the church is through the Oratory of Our Lady of Sorrows which was restored in 1846 which formed the nave of the old church Holy Mary of the Crib. Eight convex sides open into concave chaepls with lateral altars. Above four pendentives, a gallery with eight oval shaped windows between eight pillars which form the base of the ribs of the vaulting. The ribs crossing forms and eight-pointed star and the lantern dome rises from the octagon.
The richly decorated polychrom marble altars are also to the design of Guarini under various courtly patrons.
The Church of San Lorenzo, as the Church of the Holy Mary and Crib, is also known as having been the temporary home of the Holy Shroud after it was relocated from Chambéry to Turin in 1578.
The design by Guarini, uses many of the structural and decorative mechanisms and tools of the Baroque age which aimed to to visually overwhelm the visitor to the Church - a reminder of the supremacy of the Church. In this, Guarini has managed magnicently. In a fairly compact space for a Royal Church much has been poured in both decorativly and structurally and this whirlwind is to be admired.
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Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook