Cathedral of St. Lawrence
The Cathedral of St. Lawrence is located in the historical centre of Perugia on Piazza IV Novembre, its southern façade facing the square.
An early church dedicated to the proto-martyr Lawrence, who died in Rome in 258, was built here in the IX century on top of the old Etruscan-Roman forum of the city. There is no trace of the first building.
The Cathedral of St. Lawrence is one of the city's most representative religious buildings. Inside is the Deposition of the Cross by Federico Barocci and a precious relic, the Virgin's wedding ring.
The altar piece Madonna on Throne between St. John the Baptist, Onofrio, Lawrence and Ercolano by Luca Signorelli was once located here, but it is now on display at the Museo Capitolare (which you can access via the courtyard of the cathedral).
The church was designed in the XIV century as an enlargement of an earlier church and it has been as you see it today since the XV century.
The incomplete exterior features red and white marble.
The front of the church, far less majestic than the side that faces Piazza IV Novembre, looks out on Piazza Danti and is embellished with a Baroque entranceway designed by Pietro Carattoli in 1729.
The larger and more dramatic side features an entrance designed by Alessi in 1538, above which there is a niche with a wooden crucifix put there by the town's citizens in 1540, during the Salt Wars against Pope Paul III. To the right along the side is a pulpit from which, they say, St. Bernard of Siena preached to Perugians between 1425 and 1427. The bronze statue of Pope Giulio III made by Vincenzo Danti in the XVI century is also worth your attention.
The interior, which has three naves of five spans each separated by massive pillars, is in the shape of the cross with transepts and five chapels in the apse.
The ceiling is embellished with complex decorations that offer the visitor a true anthology of painting in the XVIII century.
Among the works that grace the Church walls are the counter-facade featuring the sarcophagus of Bishop Giovanni Andrea Baglioni, a work by Urbano da Cortona (1451), and the large Virgin among the Patron Saints of the City and Saints Augustine, Domenico and Francis by Giovanni Antonio Scaramuccia. For especially important devotions there is the chapel of the Holy Ring, with a painting by Jean-Baptiste Wicar on the main altar in replacement of one by Pietro Perugino depicting the same scene and now housed in the museum of Caen. At the start of the right nave, behind the wrought iron grill dating to the XV century, is a Deposition of the Cross by Federico Barocci (1569).
An elegant doorway from the XV century on the right of the transept leads to the Sacristy, home to one of Perugia's most beautiful Mannerist fresco cycles. The bright colours of the windows and the inlaid wooden choir – made in 1486 by Giuliano da Maiano and Domenico del Tasso – emerge from the darkness of the hexagonal apse.
The left nave houses what is left of the Pietà altar sculpted by Agostino of Antonio di Duccio in 1473 and the Gonfalone altar is home to a banner painted by Berto di Giovanni in 1526 during a disastrous plague. The banner is a very important and detailed historical portrayal of what Perugia looked like before the construction of the Rocca Paolina and the consequent changes to the urban landscape.
The cloister of the Cathedral is home to the Museum of the Cathedral of St. Lawrence.
The church safeguards a highly venerated relic, the wedding ring of the Virgin, which was taken from the inhabitants of Chiusi in 1473. It lies in a reliquary inside a safe with seven locks which was then set at 8 meters above the ground inside a large niche closed in by a gilded grate with another four locks. The ring is brought out to be seen only twice a year, on the 29th and 30th of July and the penultimate Sunday of January, during the celebration of the holy Marriage when all wedding rings are blessed.
To visit the church, we suggest you leave your car in one of the parking garages around the historical centre of Perugia.
The St. Lawrence Museum, like many others in Perugia, is part of the Perugia Città Museo circuit.