Nostra Signora del Suffragio e Sant’Agostino di Canterbury is a very late 20th century parish church at Via Walter Tobagi 133. In effect this is in the north extremity of the suburb of Torre Maura, but is across the zone boundary and so is in the zone of Torre Spaccata.
The reason for the dedication is that there used to be two parishes occupying temporary accommodation in Torre Maura north of the Via Casilina. Both of these were set up in 1975.
The parish of Nostra Signora del Suffragio had its headquarters at Via dei Tordi 12/A, but worshipped at the convent chapel of Nostra Signora del Suffragio a Torre Maura which is the oldest functioning place of worship in the suburb (however see Sant'Erasmo). That of Sant’Agostino di Canterbury was at Via Ernesto Giglioli 124, in an apartment block. It was finally decided that the suburb could not support two parishes, so the latter parish was suppressed because it was smaller (there seem to have been other reasons).
Paradoxically the new church, having the combined dedication, was then built in its former territory because it had a green-field site suitable for development.
The project was begun in 1992, the architect being Francesco Berarducci. Unfortunately he died in the same year, and the church was completed in 1998 under the supervision of his son Carlo.
Layout and fabric Edit
The new church is a striking and unusual design, featuring squat vertical cylinders and cuboids in juxtaposition and with a rater stark fortress-like aspect. This was deliberate, as the designer wished to allude to the many ancient remains in the vicinity. It actually resembles some mosque in the Sahel. The plan is based on a Greek cross, made up of five squares. Four circles inserted into the arms of the cross provide the foundations of the cylindrical units -these are actually three-quarter cylinders, since the curved exterior walls stop where they touch the cross arms.
The outer half of each of the cross-arms is occupied by a cuboidal tower.
The fabric is in reinforced concrete with a frame of large piers and beams, but the exterior walls are entirely clad in yellowish-pink bricks. These rise to form parapets around the flat roofs. The central square and the four half-squares adjoining it form the lowest part of the roofing, and the squares and rectangles are delineated in the roof by massive concrete beams. The cylinders have slightly higher roofs, which also cover the little triangular zones in the inner angles of the cross arms. The cuboidal towers, however, rise substantially higher and have their own flat roofs.
The far rectangle in the inner cross-roof is a large skylight which is over the altar. Otherwise, the natural lighting in the church is provided by the glass entrance doors and by tiny square windows, well separated, which cover the walls of both cylinders and cuboids in a grid pattern.
If you go round the back of the church, you will see four square concrete blocks set in the wall in the form of a larger square. Each of these contains a porthole window.
There is no proper campanile. The tower containing the main entrance has on its roof a cage of metal rods forming a cross, and this contains the bells.
The parish offices and ancillary accommodation occupies a long transverse block behind the sanctuary. This is flat-roofed, and the side facing the church features a tall void faced by massive rectangular brick piers separating large rectangular portals. The design is intended to evoke an ancient aqueduct -although obviously without the curves of the arches.
There are two entrances, the subsidiary one being in the end of the right hand cuboid. It occupies a rectangular recess occupying most of the width of the tower. However the main entrance is treated slightly more elaborately, as the rectangular recess is taller and the top has horizontal stepping. Above the portal is a huge rectangular zone in raw concrete, obviously intended as the base of a fresco or mosaic that was never executed.
Owning to the deliberate lack of fenestration, the interior is numinous to the point of being gloomy. The skylight over the altar gives a patch of brightness there.
The baptistery occupies one side cross arm, and the confessionals the other. The interior surfaces are in white and grey concrete.
According to the Diocese, Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 8:00, 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:20, 10:00, 11:30, 18:20.
(The parish website is defunct.)