Oratorio di San Lorenzo

Oratorio di San Lorenzo, Palermo

Oratorio di San Lorenzo
4.5
The area
Address
Neighborhood: Tribunali
Popular mentions

4.5
587 reviews
Excellent
439
Very good
124
Average
20
Poor
1
Terrible
3

Mairwen1
United Kingdom4,944 contributions
Stolen Carravaggio & the FBI
Feb 2020
This is a tiny but stunning chapel to the left of St Francis’ church. I might have overlooked it but I was intrigued by the story of the stolen Carravaggio painting that was taken from the altar of the small chapel one night in 1969.

Listed on the FBI’s list Top 10 Art Crimes, the nativity scene is the most valuable still-missing work of art in the world. Who stole it remains a mystery and it’s never been recovered. To add to the poignancy, it was one of the last paintings Carravaggio did. A year after completing it, he had died in unknown circumstances at just 38 years old. A life-size copy hangs in its place instead.

Although it was the art-heist story that drew me in initially, the oratory really was very beautiful. Splashes of gold around the altar highlight the pure white of the rest of the oratory. The interior is entirely covered with snowy white stucco ‘putti’ (cherubs) and scenes from the lives of St Frances and St Lawrence. I’ve heard it called the cave of white coral. It really does look a lot like that.

It is only small (just the one room) but the decoration is so detailed that we spent some time there. The cherubs are a playful tangle of chubby limbs and baby wings and are just gorgeous. It struck me that it would be impossible to concentrate on prayer and not be distracted by these fanciful, lively creatures.

Other details include the exquisitely detailed mahogany pews, patterned with mother-of-pearl and ivory and the gruesome scene of St Lawrence who was painfully and slowly martyred by being tied to an iron grill over a fire of coals. In a brilliant display of bravado, he is supposed to have said before dying, “I am well done. Turn me over”.

TIP - the ‘Circuito del Sacro’ ticket gives you a discount off the entry price for this and a dozen or so other churches. Just ask for it at the first church you visit.
Written November 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

SeekerOfGoodValue
Saint Louis, MO333 contributions
Ranked higher than it should be.
Sep 2019
Without the stolen Caravaggio, this Oratorio is much less compelling. If you are already nearby or you are in Palermo for more than two days, stop in. Otherwise, focus on better options.
Written October 27, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

marcus h
Greater London, UK24 contributions
Elegant chape
Oct 2019
A must see visit San Lorenzo.
A small church in a side street of Palermo it is easily overlooked but take the time to find this church.
Famed as the place where a Caravaggio was stolen from. It has a recreation of the picture Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence that gives a flavour of the original.
All this we knew before visiting. What was an eye opener was the remains of the 3d 'pictures' in plaster (stucco work by Giacomo Serpotti according to the brochure). These have had many of the principal characters removed (stolen) nevertheless even in their reduced condition they are amazing.
In addition there a riot of plaster cherubs frolicking on the walls, a very fine marble floor and take the time to look at the supports of the benches - finely carved saints (?).
As it stands today it is exquisite - what must it have been like before it was pillaged.
Well worth your time.n
Written October 26, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ben1275
Oslo, Norway196 contributions
Beautiful oratorio
Jul 2019 • Family
A small oratorio with lovely statue work from the Baroque period. Definitely worth a visit as a representative example for many such buildings in Palermo.
Written July 19, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

mvidro
Washington DC, DC383 contributions
Baroque meeting place for civic charity (no Lions Club was ever like this)
May 2019 • Friends
This quiet spot, with its wonderful marble floors and carved wooden benches, was formerly the home of an altarpiece of Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence by Caravaggio. Stolen in the 1960s, a reproduction (version 2.0) serves as a stand-in. While the plaster putti are a little over the top, it provides a good sense of "normal" rooms within which charitable foundations met.
Written May 21, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mike P
Liverpool, UK26 contributions
Takes your breath away
May 2019 • Friends
Set in a beautiful square near St Francis of Assisi such a small building contains a great deal to be amazed by. There is an overwhelming cluster of statues above and about. If that does not stun you there is a copy of a Caravaggio nativity scene which has an intriguing history all of its own. Do not go home without experiencing this wonder as you may regret a missed opportunity for the rest of your life.
Written May 9, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Dieter H
Frankfurt, Germany186 contributions
playful putti and more
Mar 2019 • Friends
definitely worth a visit, because of the amazing artwork of Giacomo Serpotta. Also beautiful ornamented floor.
Written March 11, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

gsm018
27 contributions
Serpotta Stucco
Nov 2018 • Couples
Great visit at a quiet time as small. At least most of the interesting stuff is up high and visible if you go high season. Small but high quality exhibit. Amazing condition.
Written November 10, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

4bellaarte2
Tarpon Springs, FL303 contributions
Peaceful Reflection
Sep 2018 • Couples
Lovely little church hidden away in a courtyard. The nondescript facade belies the beauty that it holds inside! The entire interior walls are covered with floating white angels! Unfortunately this church is famous for the stolen Caravaggio painting which disappeared in 1969 and has never been recovered. A copy of it presently hangs above the main altar. There is a small entrance fee.
Written October 26, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Drnklawyer
Rugby, UK23 contributions
Beautiful church, poor presentation
Oct 2018 • Couples
Me and mum went here today and were driven mad by the atrocious recorded music in the chapel. The sound was grating and singularly inappropriate. It really spoilt our visit. The use of high metal grating benches, that blocked the view of the painting was also bizarre. Please let us visit in peace!
Written October 17, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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