Marvels

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina

The Roman Forum

Placed on a high podium, accessible through a monumental staircase, the temple is characterized on the facade by six cipollino marble columns, 17 meters high, with Corinthian capitals in white marble; two pairs of columns are placed on the sides. The cella, in opus quadratum made of peperino originally covered in marble, is surmounted by a marble architrave, visible on the sides of the building, decorated with griffins, acanthus volutes and candelabra. The façade, which has lost its tympanum, has preserved the dedicatory inscription relating to the foundation by Emperor Antoninus Pius in memory of his wife Faustina (who died in 140 A.D.), to whom the statue in fragmentary condition currently placed in the portico may pertain. In 161 A.D., on the death of the emperor, the Senate decreed that the temple should be dedicated to both and so the inscription on the facade from “Divae Faustinae ex S(enatus) C(onsulto)” was updated and preceded by the name of the Divus Antoninus.

In the 7th century the temple was readapted into a church: the height of the door, much higher than the basement of the Via Sacra, testifies to the level of trampling in the Roman Forum before the 19th century excavations. Since the 11th century it has been known by sources as the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda. In 1429 the Congregation of Pharmacists was established by Pope Martin V, while in 1602 a new rebuilding of the church is documented: famous painters were called to decorate it, including Pietro da Cortona and Domenichino. The dedication was to San Lorenzo degli Speziali in Campo Vaccino, so as to underline, also in the name, the link with the pharmacists – then known as speziali – and with the place where it stood, that Roman Forum which at the time was used as a pasture area, after centuries of neglect.