Lawes, who came on in the 46th minute of last weekend’s 15-9 win against Scotland, lines up in the same pack as club-mate Dylan Hartley, who skippers the Red Rose.
Saints prop Paul Hill, who was an unused replacement at Murrayfield, is in line for his first cap as he takes his place on the bench.
England have made three changes in total, with Mako Vunipola and Ben Youngs joining Lawes in earning a promotion from the bench.
“I believe this is the strongest 23 to go to Rome and get the performance and result we want.” said head coach Eddie Jones.
“Mako, Ben and Courtney have been pushing hard for selection during training, but they also fit the game plan we want to implement against Italy.
“Danny (Care), Joe Marler and Joe Launchbury will all have a significant roles to play to finish the game.”
“It has been an intense week of training and I am pleased with how the group have responded to some of the things we’ve asked them to do.
“We are confident we can go to Rome and win, but we’re in no doubt of the challenge we face. Italy took France very close last weekend in Paris so they’ll be fired up.”
England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Nowell; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley (c), Cole; Lawes, Kruis; Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola.
Replacements: George, Marler, Hill, Launchbury, Itoje, Clifford, Care, Goode.