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Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario

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Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario is a 20th century Fascist-era parish and titular church at Piazza Nostra Signora di Guadalupe 12 in the Della Vittoria quarter.

The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

There is confusion between this church, and Nostra Signora di Guadalupe e San Filippo Martire in Via Aurelia. Note that the Monte Mario church is not a national church of Mexico .

History Edit

The church was begun in 1928, and completed in 1932 as the church for a proposed Roman convent of the Hijas de Maria Immaculada de Guadalupe (“Daughters of Mary Immaculate of Guadalupe”). This is a Mexican religious congregation of sisters, hence the dedication refers to a famous Marian shrine outside Mexico City.

However, the project failed and the sisters sold the property to the diocese of Rome which erected it as a parish church in 1936. As a result the congregation has had no presence in the Diocese of Rome, and its headquarters remains in Mexico City.

The church became titular in 1969. The present cardinal priest is Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, who was appointed in 2012. The previous incumbent was Adolfo Antonio Suárez Rivera, of Mexico, who died in 2008.

There was some rather silly speculation as to why Dolan was given such a "crappy little church" when elevated to the cardinalate, instead of a more prestigious one.

Exterior Edit

Layout and fabric Edit

The church has a single nave of three bays, without aisles, and a three-sided apse of the same width. The nave roof is pitched (rather shallowly) and tiled, and the apse has its own lower roof.

The walls are rendered in a dull orange throughout. The style is rather eclectic, vaguely Romanesque with Gothic hints.

The side walls have three large round-headed windows each. Each of these windows has two arched lights, the undecorated archivolts of which are supported by a central Corinthian column and two side semi-columns. These have exaggerated imposts on their capitals. Above the archivolts is a little oculus with a raised frame.

Each side wall also has two string courses. The lower one is a simple roll, and runs just below the windowsills. The upper one is molded, and runs at the level of the oculi. It bends over each window in a Gothic point. The roofline has a projecting molded cornice.

Façade Edit

The façade is a very odd composition for such an obviously cheaply-built church, since it contains good-quality sculptural relief items which give the impression of being salvage from elsewhere.

There is a simple gable, with the side wall cornices turning the corners to run up the gable slopes and meet at the top angle. At these corners there are two impost blocks carved with hart's tongues, rather like strayed pilaster capitals.

Very oddly, the corners of the façade also sport corner pilasters in stone quoin blocks, but these only rise halfway up and are topped by cushion capitals. The two exposed faces of each capitals have very good carvings of mythological beast fighting each other -perhaps the only artworks that the church has which are worth visiting to see.

The single entrance is sheltered by a thick, shallow and unadorned semi-circular archivolt in grey stone. This encloses a tympanum with a colourful mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A statue of her is also perched on the archivolt (it is bad iconographic form to duplicate sacred images in this way). The archivolt is supported by a pair of free-standing columns on block bases; the left hand one is typically Corinthian but the capital of the right hand one does not match and shows a cross with single acanthus leaves at the corners. This is good evidence that the architect (who?) worked with salvaged architectural elements. The doorcase is wide, with a length of barley-sugar molding on the bottom edge of the lintel and a panel with vine-frond relief decoration on each side.

The double door itself has sculptural elements in metal. In the upper half are two circular cut-aways containing Celtic crosses. Lower down are two relief plaques which look as if they portray the original apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Over the entrance is a wheel window of twelve lights, extending into the gable. The mullions are in the form of tiny Corinthian columns, and there is a Greek cross in the hub where they meet.

The entrance archivolt is cut into at the outer sides of its springers, and here are two carved blocks. The right hand one shows an eagle, but the left hand one is difficult to make out. These blocks act as imposts for two molded blind archivolts the other ends of which spring from the beast-fight pilaster capitals mentioned. These semi-circular archivolts enclose two identical reliefs of the chi-rho symbol stuck onto the façade inside a circular frame.

The church façade is not on the street, but is behind a rather cheap mild steel set of ornamental railings. This is a hint as to its abortive status as a convent church.

Interior Edit

Nave Edit

The interior is simple to the point of starkness. On entering, you pass under a gallery which presumably was intended to hold an organ (although there isn't one visible). This is supported by three arches having simple square imposts, and with the archivolts rendered so as to blend with the solid frontage of the gallery above. To the left is an interesting spiral staircase for access, with an unusual solid balustrade.

The side walls each have three rectangular niches cut into the fabric, which contain devotional statues. A thin string course runs down each wall just below the level of the tops of these niches, and jumps over each niche in a wide curve. The walls below the string course are in a faint pastel orange, while above they are in a vague pale yellow.

Below the windows on each side is a thick, bulky molded floating cornice, which supports a line of solid panelling with fretwork decoration in the form of cross-wheels. This is a very strange feature, as if rodents needed a hidden walkway to get from one end of the church to the other. What was the architect thinking of? A similar fretted screen is on top of the gallery frontage.

The church's set of Stations of the Cross hang below these two cornices. The middle niche on the right is the baptistery, and the cover of the font has a metal finial in the form of The Resurrecting Christ.

The open roof has three longitudinal rafters visible, and several transverse ones which are supported by short trusses. The woodwork is in the same odd yellowish colour, while the rendered boards are in white.

Sanctuary Edit

The sanctuary intruded slightly into the nave, and is raised on two steps. At either side is a short length of low screen in the form of an arcade of three little marble arches. The free-standing altar is an impressive marble work in Gothic style, with open ogee arches supported on columns.

The three-side apse has three round windows, and rather than a proper conch it shows the underside of the roof with three rafters dividing the sectors.

The superbly carved white marble tabernacle is in the back of the apse, and has a gilded metal door in the form of a Gothic arch. Above the tabernacle a little aedicule is attached to the wall, with its top intruding into the central circular window. This contains a venerated copy icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe , which had originally been donated to Pope Leo XIII and was crowned in 1955 as "Queen of Labour".

Access Edit

According to an unofficial source, the church is open:

Daily 7:15 to 13:00, 17:30 to 20:00.

External links Edit

(The church's online presence is poor.)

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Info.roma web-page

Sacrosancta blog page

Cardinal's blog page

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