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The Royal Church of S. Lorenzo, which has been restored in connection with two past exhibitions of the Holy Shroud (in 1998 and in the year 2000) offers to the visitor, whether a regular or a casual one, the extraordinary sight of this jewel by Guarino Guarini.

The Priests of the Church of San Lorenzo wish everyone to take along, after having seen what the genius of Guarini offers to the heart and intelligence of the people, those feelings of architectural and religious harmony, that Guarino Guarini, a member of the Theatine order, was able to create thanks to his ability as an architect and to this faith as a believer.

To fulfil the votive offering made during the battle of Saint-Quentin (won on 10 August 1557, the feast of St. Lawrence), Emanuele Filiberto decided to restore and dedicate to St. Lawrence the already existent Church Holy Mary of the Crib, formerly Madonna of the Snows, which in 1578 was temporary home to the Holy Shroud after its transfer from Chambery to Turin.

Cupola

The Savoy family assigned the design and construction of the new church of San Lorenzo to the architect Guarino Guarini (also a Theatine priest) who was called to Turin in 1666. He followed the construction in every detail and celebrated the inaugural Mass on 11 May 1680.

The Church adjoins piazzetta Reale and is distinguished by its cupola. The facade designed by the architect was not built and the present aspect conforms to the civil buildings of the square.


Entry is through the Oratory of Our Lady of Sorrows (restored in 1846), in the nave of the old church of Holy Mary of the Crib. The interior has a central plan with eight convex sides opening onto the concave chapels of the lateral altars. Above the four pendentives there is a gallery with eight oval windows between eight pillars which form the base of the ribs of the vault. The latter cross to form an eight-pointed star and the lantern-dome rises from the regular octagon. Guarini designed the richly decorated polychrome marble altars that are under the patronage of diverse court figures.

The Church is one of the most important and evocative works not only of the Modenese architect but of the Baroque in general.

Guarino Guarini’s architectural daring must be seen in relation to the virtuoso use of structural techniques common to the century, aimed at “stupefying” (the stunned marvelling of the faithful), almost to make manifest the miracle of divine logic through the human technical “miracle”.

The architecture of this Church, with its symbols, forms and particular details, is still today an expression of faith and a remainder of the supernatural.