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Gesù Divin Salvatore is a late 20th century parish church at Via Romolo Gigliozzi 31 in the Tor de' Cenci zone, west of the Via Pontina and on the edge of the suburban sprawl in this southerly direction.
The dedication is to Jesus Christ, under his title of "Divine Saviour".
This church has taken over from Sant’Andrea Apostolo in Castel di Decima as the parish church for the area.
The earliest reference to the castle of Castel di Decima dates to 1081, when the Castrum Pontis Decimi was part of the property portfolio of the abbey of San Paolo fuori le Mura. The freehold subsequently passed in turn to the monasteries of Sant'Alessio all'Aventino and San Saba, although the Frangepani family were castellans.
Foundation of parish Edit
By this time, the castle would have lost its military significance and become a casale or fortified farm-house with a private chapel. The cardinal renovated the property, and fitted out a church for the inhabitants of the estate. This was made parochial, with a dedication to SS Martino e Antonio Abbate (Martin of Tours and Anthony of Egypt), and was consecrated in 1778.
The cardinal also bought the neighbouring property of Casale di Perna. This was provided with its own chapel, which is still standing although apparently deconsecrated. See Cappella del Casale di Perna.
Later history of Sant'AndreaEdit
The dedication of the church was apparently later changed to Sant’Elvira (St Elvira is a very obscure martyr, not in the martyrologies), but if so the name of the parish did not change.
Originally the church did not belong to the diocese of Rome, but was part of the diocese of Ostia until 1962 when Rome annexed most of the territory of that diocese.
Diocesan clergy of Ostia were in charge until 1924, when the castle became a convent of the Augustinian friars. The Society of St Paul took over in 1950, but gave up in 1958 in favour of the Capuchins.
New church Edit
In the late 20th century, suburban development had occurred in the Spinaceto area in the north of the parish, and it was decided to build a new parish church in a more convenient location. The Capuchins gave up the parish in 1982 in favour of the Salvatiorians, and the new church of Gesù Divin Salvatore was consecrated in 1995. The architect was Marcello Meucci.
The church's dedication was in honour of the Salvatorians, but the parish was re-named in the same year as Santi Martino e Antonio Abate a Castel di Decima. Hence, the first dedication of the old church was preserved in the dedication of the parish (which hence does not have the same name as its main church).
The old castle convent was converted into a hotel and conference centre, which it still is. The firm responsible is Giolitti Catering (that is its Italian name). However, because the new parish church is a long way from the little village, the old church here was kept open and was renovated. It was re-consecrated with its present dedication in 1988, and remains dependent on the parish as a subsidiary place of worship.
The Salvatorians were replaced with diocesan clergy in 2010.
The church has an unusual plan, based on a hexagon stretched along the longitudinal axis. The side walls are long and straight, the entrance and altar ends are very short and the four diagonal walls on either side of these latter are curved inwards.
The back end of the church abuts the parish and social facilities behind, which occupy a building larger than the church itself. Also, the church stands over a crypt.
The fabric is entirely in reinforced concrete. The side walls each have a long row of vertical slit windows, eighteen in each row.
The roof can be likened to the shape of a tent or pavilion, having a long upwardly sloping pitch from the entrance to above the high altar. The two side pitches are incurved. The overall effect is that the church looks rather like a tortoise.
The incurved walls at the front and back of the church are extended above the roofline, and the two at the front also extend forward to frame a flat-roofed kiosk which serves for the entrance. The roof of this is part of the central pitch of the main roof. The kiosk has a very heavy-looking cornice beam supported by two thin piers set back, looking faintly Classical. Also, two screen walls are inserted into the gaps between the kiosk and the curved walls and project in front of the former.
The entrance is approached by a flight of steps, because of the crypt.
There is a tall detached tower campanile made up of four square concrete pillars arranged on the plan of a cross, with their top ends cut diagonally so as to give the appearance of a pencil-point or rocket. The bells are set into a metal cage within these.
The church stands in attractively laid out grounds, which contain a colossal statue of Christ inside a glass pavilion shaped like a bell-tent. The railings surrounding the grounds are worth a glance -they form a row of isolated vertical bars on top of a low wall, and the metal gates feature a pattern of concentric squares.
The interior is dominated by the roof, in raw concrete with the incurving side portions joining with the upcurving central portion to give a billowing effect. The walls are raw concrete, too.
The windows are in stained glass. As well as the eighteen vertical slit windows on either side, there is a window tucked under the roof above the sanctuary. This window is flanked by two engaged support piers, the lower parts of which are hidden by a large semi-circular screen in white. This bears a traditional crucifix.
The tabernacle is in the wall to the right of the altar, and is the best thing in the church. It is circular, in bronze with a portrait mask of Christ in the centre surrounded by a glory. The artist is Giuseppe Rogolino.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 8:30, 18:00 (one Mass at 19:00 in summer);
Sundays and Solemnities 10:00, 11:30 (not summer), 18:00 (19:00 summer).
Summer here is from second Sunday in June to ditto September.
Every Saturday there is Mass at 21:00 in the crypt.
On First Fridays from the end of October to June there is a special schedule of Masses:
8:30, 15:00, 18:00, 21:00.
External Mass centres: Edit
The parish administers three dependent Mass centres (at least in 2016):
(The Diocese is now mistaken in listing Madonna del Rosario a Via Laurentina as belonging to this parish.)