Nostra Signora di Czestochowa is a later 20th century parish church at Largo Augusto Corelli 9, in the suburb of La Rustica. This is in the district of Tor Sapienza, south-west of where the Grande Raccordo Anulare (Circonvallazione Orientale) crosses the Strada dei Parchi (A24).
The parish was set up in 1962, and its temporary church was initially dedicated to St Maximus of Turin (San Massimo). However, Bl Pope Paul VI wished the dedication to be changed to Our Lady of Czestochowa and this was done in 1965.
The permanent church was designed by Alberto Tonelli. It was begun on the site of the temporary church in 1969, and opened in 1971.
In 1974 the parish was entrusted to priest-monks of the Sylvestrine Benedictine Congregation, who founded a monastery here. However, declining vocations meant that they gave it back to diocesan clergy in 2015 and the monastery is now defunct.
There was a recent re-ordering of the sanctuary, with the loss of original furnishings -which is a serious shame.
Layout and fabric Edit
This is uncompromisingly modernist edifice, which occupies a prominent site on the focal road junction in the suburb. It is one of the Roman churches of the period where the architect obviously wanted to get away from the common notion of what a church should look like.
The plan is straightforwardly rectangular, and the fabric equally simple. It comprises a box-frame in concrete, hidden within walls of bright red brick. The result is a flat-roofed box, period.
The walls are uniformly blank red brick, except for a large round window in the far wall behind the sanctuary. At the top of all four walls is a massive protruding cornice in the same brick, and over this is a continuous window strip which is slightly recessed and contains the roof supports. The equally massive roof fascia is over this in turn, slightly overhanging the cornice below. This fascia is in raw concrete.
The actual church roof is actually not behind the fascia as seen, but there is a narrow passage on all four sides between the two.
The parish centre and offices occupy premises abutting the church on its far right hand side. On the left hand side is appended half a truncated cone in raw concrete, on a semi-circular plan. This is the ferial chapel.
There seems to be no campanile.
The façade matches the other three walls of the church, except that the lower third of the wall is substantially recessed for its entire width to create an internal loggia. The frontage within this loggia is entirely of glass, and provides much of the light in the church.
There used to be a cross sculpture on the wall above the entrance, but this was recently removed or fell off. On the parapet is a large cross finial, assembled from metal rods.
Layout and fabric Edit
The interior is one large space, with the walls being in the same red brick as outside except the far one which is in white. The concrete roof has square coffers. The floor is in speckled grey tiling.
The ferial chapel is through a glass screen on the left hand side.
The right hand side wall has on display a replica of the Shroud of Turin.
The sanctuary occupies a square platform with three steps, well forward in the body of the church. The furnishings have recently been replaced, replacing the original challenging pieces with anodyne ones (to be fair, this is a working church and not a display of modernist art).
The former altar, which was polished stainless steel in the form of an inverted truncated pyramid, is no more. Now the altar is a large white box on a square plan with edges in wood, and with a polychrome resin depiction of The Last Supper on its frontal.
The font is to the right, a shallow stone bowl on a curlicued steel tripod. It replaced a superb piece in pale brown marble, in the form of an egg which opened (think Fabergé).
The ambo or pulpit to the left is also in white, and has five sides of an octagonal prism.
The best thing in the church is the tabernacle. It is set into a circular stained glass window in the far wall, with a theme of the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by those in heaven and on earth. The overall blue of the composition contrasts with the white, red and grey of the body of the church and so draws attention here.
To the far left of the sanctuary is the tomb of Lorena D'Alessandro, a local young woman whose cause for beatification has been completed and whose beatification is hoped for soon.
Ferial chapel Edit
The ferial chapel is entered through a stained glass screen which has sunburst motifs. In it is a venerated copy of the famous miracle-working icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):
Weekdays 8:30, 18:00 (19:00 in summer);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00 (10:30 in summer), 11:30 (not summer), 18:00 (19:00 in summer).
"Summer' here is from 11 June to the end of August in 2018.
Rosary is celebrated daily at 17:30.
There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Mondays and Fridays from 18:30 to 20:00.
External Mass centres Edit
The church has two active external Mass centres, and a derelict one:
- Scuola dell'Infanzia Pariataria "Santa Teresa del Bambin Gesù"
This is at Via Delia 58, and is set well back from the street behind a large garden. The edifice, housing a nursery school, is a single-storey flat-roofed concrete structure little better than a prefabricated shed. The chapel has no architectural identity. The school is run by the Figlie della Madonna del Divino Amore.
Mass was being celebrated publicly on Thursdays at 7:30, and on the first Saturday and the 13th of each month at 16:00. On other days the Rosary was being recited at this time.
This information is provided by the Diocese, but does not appear on the parish website. The provision of Mass here is obviously becoming tenuous, and might cease soon if not already (2018).
- Centro Culturale Casale Caletto
The neighbourhood social centre in the rather isolated little suburb of Casale Caletto (in the north of the parish territory, on the other side of the Autostrada A24) hosts a Mass on Sundays and Solemnities at 11:00 (parish website, July 2018 -not in July or August).
The worshipping community has an informal dedication to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Cuore Immacolata di Maria), and a parish confraternity with this name operates in the suburb.
The Mass is, at present, celebrated in a room at the centre -but there is a possibility of something better if (and only if) the suburb grows. There is the potential of a new parish here. The postal address is Via del Casale Caletto 1.
- Santa Maria ad Nives a Salone. This old chapel is disused, although still listed by the Diocese. The fabric is in place, but the fittings are derelict.
Sylvestrine web-page (still extant, although monastery is defunct)