San Lazzaro alla Marmorata was a 15th century hospital church that used to stand in the Via Marmorata, near the present-day Arco di San Lazzaro which is named after it and which used to be part of an ancient Roman warehouse. This is in the rione Testaccio.

The dedication was to St Lazarus.


Churches of MarmorataEdit

Before modern times, Marmorata as a district was counted as starting at Santa Maria in Cosmedin and occupying the narrow strip of ground beween the Aventine and the river, also the road that led round the west hand side of the hill to Porta San Paolo (the present Via Marmorata). What is now the north part of the rione Testaccio was called Orreu after the Horrea or ancient grain warehouses that used to be there.

In the Middle Ages these two areas were populated and had several churches (at least thirteen), but only this one and Sant’Anna a Ripa survived until modern times. All the rest had gone by the 16th century, as the population vanished to be replaced by open countryside. Before 1870, the Via Marmorata was a country lane which ran through a hamlet of scattered houses focused on a large village green just north-east of the Porta San Paolo.

From documentary sources, especially the Catalogus Camerarii (early 13th century) and the Catalogue of Turin (early 14th century), we can obtain a list of these churches. What is not possible, is to figure out exactly where they were. Here they are:

San Salvatore de Molellis, possibly on the site of the present San Vincenzo de’Paoli all'Aventino.

Sant' Anna de Marmorata, later Sant'Anna a Ripa.

San Salvatore de Marmorata. Apparently just down the riverbank from the above. Do not confuse with San Salvatore de Porta.

Sant'Anastasio de Marmorata. Further along the river, towards the present Ponte Sublicio.

San Foca. Somewhere near the foot of the bridge. The saint is Phocas.

San Niccolò de Marmorata. Apparently on the present Via Marmorata, towards the north end.

Santa Maria de Episcopio. Near the above. The name hints that it may have belonged to a suburbican bishop.

San Lorenzo in Bascio.

San Geminiano.

San Giacomo in Orreu. This one and the following two were in the north of the present Testaccio district.

San Giovanni in Orreu

Santi Pietro e Martino

(San Ermo). The existence of this one depends entirely on the witness of Il Ligorio, a notorious 16th century forger of ancient epigraphs. The saint is Elmo.

San Lazzaro, which is the church under discussion.

Leper hospital and laterEdit

It is odd that one of the most unimportant of the churches listed was the one that survived the longest. It used to be the chapel of a leper hospital, as is indicated by the dedication, and was founded in the 12th century. The church itself dated from the 15th century. When the area depopulated and the other churches vanished, it was left as a chapel for the small rural population and was served from Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The latter was the parish church for the entire Aventine, Marmorata and Testaccio until modern times.

The main road to Porta San Paolo formerly ran under the arch. When the road was moved to run to the west side of the arch in the late 19th century, the old buildings attached to it were demolished. The archway itself, part of an ancient Roman warehouse, was spared.


The church was a simple rectangular building, without an apse. The façade had a single entrance with a stone doorcase, over which was a small round window just touching the lintel. Above this in turn was a recessed tablet. A string course ran under the gable of the roof to create a triangular pediment.

Above the body of the nave was a roughly constructed upper storey (the accommodation for a priest?) which had a single-pitched roof sloping down from left to right. The left hand wall of this was party with a two-storey building on the other side of the arch, and access seems to have been through this.


The church was on the east side of the old road. The left hand corner of the façade was attached to the south corner of the east pier of the arch. 

External linkEdit

Nolli map (look for 1073) Info.roma web-page on the arch

Old photo of church on Roma Sparita

18th century engraving (2014: link bad)

De Alvariis gallery on Flickr of the arch

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