The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina was built in 141 A.D. It is in the best condition among the ancient Roman structures of the Forum. As the Pantheon, the temple is now in such condition because it was given to the Roman Catholic Church.
Antoninus Pius was the fourth emperor of the Antonine dynasty (after Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian). Under the emperors of this dynasty the Roman Empire reached its maximum size and the Roman civilization was at the peak of its prosperity and power. There was peace between the Senate and emperors and the domestic position was very stable. In 139 A.D. Antoninus Pius was awarded the title of the «father of the country».
The emperor was married to the Faustina the Elder and loved her very much. Faustina died in the age of 36 and the Roman Senate suggested to build a beautiful temple in her honor in the Roman Forum. Additionally, the senators also proposed to deify the former empress. Antoninus Pius accepted their proposition.
So the Temple of Faustina was erected at the Roman Forum. The golden statue of the empress was installed in the middle of the temple. Antoninus Pius himself died in 161 and the temple was then dedicated to both spouses. Antoninus Pius also was deified and his golden statue was installed beside that of Faustina. You can still see the following inscription on the wall of the former temple: «To the divine Antoninus and to the divine Faustina by decree of the Senate».
The temple survived to our days mostly because it was converted into a Roman Catholic church as early as in 7 century A.D. The church was dedicated to St. Lawrence. St. Lawrence was a deacon of Rome martyred in 258 A.D., during the persecution of the Christians under the emperor Valerian. He was placed on a gridiron with hot coals under it just in front of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina. Afterwards St. Lawrence became one of the most revered saints of the Roman Catholic church.
Now the church houses a small museum. At the museum you can see the fragments of ancient sculptures, which are over 3 thousand years. On the walls of the building you can also see Christian frescoes of 12 century. The today facade of the church dates was rebuilt in 1602.