|Gran Madre di Dio|
|English name:||Great Mother of God|
|Dedication:||Blessed Virgin Mary|
|Architect(s):||Cesare Bazzani, Clemente Busiri Vico|
|Address:|| 1 Via Cassia|
|Phone:||06 33 39 340|
Gran Madre di Dio is a parish and titular church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or more specifically to the Most Holy Mother of God. It is in the Delle Vittoria district, and is at the start of the Via Cassia just north of the Ponte Milvio. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons.
The parish of Gran Madre di Dio was erected by Pope Pius XI in December 1933, and its church was consecrated in May 1937. The church was intended as a commemoration of the 15th centenary of the Council of Ephesus (432), where the Church declared that Mary was the Mother of God. It became a titular church in 1965, the title being the same as the church's dedication.
It was designed by Cesare Bazzani, and built by Clemente Busiri Vico in the Neo-Classical style. This imposing edifice is one of Rome's great modern domed churches (see San Giovanni Bosco and Santi Pietro e Paolo for others). The plan is of a Greek cross, with a high lead-covered dome on an octagonal drum with eight rectangular windows and an entablature. The dome has a cylindrical lantern pierced by tall arched windows, and crowned by a pointed finial with a ball and cross. There are two bell-towers attached to the transepts, which have large arched bell-openings, pilastered corners to the bellchamber storeys, entablatures and square onion domes. There is a semi-circular apse with five round-headed windows separated by rectangular pilasters. Two identical blocks of residential accommodation separate the nave and transepts from the streets on either side. In the corners between the nave and transepts are two side entrance porches on a quarter-circle plan, each entrance having a broken segmental pediment into which is inserted a round window and with a quarter-dome above. Their doorcases are flanked by a pair of round Ionic pilasters. The main entrance is situated in an enormous and spectacular propylaeum in marble, having a pair of vast square Doric pillars on the corners into which are inserted two arched niches, one above the other. These support an entablature bearing the inscription "Praecelsae Dei Genitrici Dicatum", meaning "Dedicated to the most high Mother (literally, birth-giver) of God". The triangular pediment above contains a coat of arms, and in between the square pillars are a pair of Corinthinan columns in the round. Above the entrance is the year of dedication, 1938, then a segmental pediment defaced by a shield and finally a semi-circular lunette window. The rooflines behind the propylaeum are horizontal and balustraded.
Unlike the majority of the great domed churches of the Centro Storico, the main interior has little decoration and is mostly in white and grey. Its cool restraint does recall Santi Luca e Martina in the Forum, however. The apse has rich marble cladding, with Ionic pilasters in red separating the windows, polychrome panelling below them and green marble on the lower wall. Behind the altar is a colossal statue of the Mother and Child, and the frieze has an inscription "Sancta Maria Ora pro Nobis". The conch of the apse is frescoed with allegorical figures, and there is the Dove of the Holy Spirit above. The side chapels in the transepts are also decorated in polychrome marble.
The feast of the Most Holy Mother of God is celebrated on 1 January.