Tuesday, June 17, 2008

San Lorenzo

Photographs of San Lorenzo Fuoiri le Mura, by Jim Forest

There is now a short essay about Jim and Nancy Forest's last day of pilgrimage in Rome when they went to the Basilica of San Lorenzo Fuoiri le Mura (St Laurence Outside the Walls). This turned out to be among the best preserved and most beautiful ancient churches in Rome. Probably it was one of the churches Merton found in his search for early Christian iconography.

Jim wrote an essay to accompany the day at San Lorenzo here. Without having to search through guidebooks and history books, you will be able to see the photographs with much knowledge and understanding. The photographs from this day are in a folder on Flickr here.

Thank you again, Jim and Nancy, for sharing your pilgrimage. The photos are so stunning, I keep looking at them again and again. Like ikons, they convey silence and so much mystery.


  1. I like the colors very much : my little space at home on the wall for relics and such uses beige, and earthtones white, and pale green.

    I like this much better than the Sistine Chapel.

  2. I know what you mean, Marc. The simplicity is so captivating.

  3. Having been at some of the ancient churches of Rome earlier in my life, partly thanks to the work I was doing in writing the Merton biography Living With Wisdom, I already had an understanding of why Merton responded with such enthusiasm and astonishment to early Christian iconography, but this longer, less hurried visit brought me to a deeper level of appreciation of what a turning point the discovery of these churches was for Merton when he was 18. There is much in later Christian art (as one sees, for example, at the Sistine Chapel) that is beautiful and moving, but -- for me at least -- it doesn't reach the same depths or have the same vigor. The art becomes theatrical, even opera-like. It loses the incredible stillness, the profound silence, of icons.


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