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Nostra Signora di Lourdes a Tor Marancia is a mid 20th century parish church at Via Andrea Mantegna 147, in the suburb of Tor Marancia which is south-east of Garbatella in the Ardeatino quarter.

A picture of the church on Wikimedia Commons is here.

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

History Edit

The remote origins of the parish lie in the creation of a curacy within the parish of San Sebastiano fuori le Mura in 1936, when the area was just beginning its suburban development. The full parish was set up in 1957, simultaneously with the beginning of the church's construction. It was designed by Gino Cancelotti, and completed structurally in 1958. The interior fittings were finished two years later. This was his only church in Rome.

Originally the parish was entrusted to the clergy of the congregation of Opera Don Calabria, but has been with diocesan clergy for some years.

Exterior Edit

Layout Edit

This is a substantial edifice, which stands on a crypt partly sunk into the ground.

The plan is approximately square, but the sides are slightly bowed (outwardly bent) in three equal lengths each which makes the plan an irregular dodecahedron. This is not immediately obvious to a casual glance, however.

The three sides at the back are occupied by three apses, the central larger one five-sided and the lateral ones three-sided. The middle one abuts the parish centre, which is behind the church.

Near the far right-hand corner is a free-standing tower campanile which is a major local landmark.

The right hand side has a single side entrance in its middle, and this used to be linked to an external baptistery via a covered passage with open sides. This was an octagonal box in travertine limestone, with a little low conical roof raised up on concrete posts at the corners and so allowing for window strips at the tops of all eight sides. Unfortunately, this engaging little structure has been demolished -but appears in photos online.

Fabric Edit

The fabric consists of a reinforced concrete frame with brick infill. The edifice is tall for its ground-plan.

Each of the four main walls is divided into three enormous windowless zones, occupying three of the sides of the dodecahedron in the plan. These are divided by concrete support piers running from bottom to top, which are tapered and have three sides the flanking ones of which are incurved. The concrete is light grey in colour. At their tops these piers meld with horizontal roofline beams.

The four corners of the edifice are occupied by much more massive concrete piers, placed diagonally so that the corners are actually chamfered. Each pier has a central recessed panel for its entire height.

The wall zones are infilled with brickwork, horizontally striped in red and yellow brick. Also, the brickwork is laid so as to present a regular grid pattern of square depressions which pockmark the walls in rows following the lines between the bricks. The same patterned brickwork is used for the walls of the three apses.

The central zone of each side wall is occupied by a side entrance, with a porch formed by two vertical slabs supporting a slightly curved concrete canopy.

At the top of each zone is a triangular window set into the roofline with a projecting canopy, thus giving a pedimental effect with three low gables on each side of the church. These nine windows provide much of the natural light within.

The roof, which is in a grey composition, has nine double pitches corresponding to the nine gables mentioned. The ridge-lines of these slope upwards to meet a tall lantern on a square base. The latter has four sloping and tapering concrete piers which support an octagonal cap with eight triangular sectors meeting at a cross finial. The lantern is the other source of natural light for the interior.

The apse roofs have back-sloping double pitches, but the central apse has its own lantern on the plan of a longitudinally stretched hexagon.

Campanile Edit

There is a spectacularly tall detached tower campanile, which tapers with height. It has the plan of an elongated hexagon, with the short ends occupied by two massive wide concrete slab-piers. The four lateral sides of the hexagon are occupied by brickwork in the same style as the church, but bricks in the two lateral sides furthest from the church have gaps left in them to provide some light for the stairwell.

At the top, the bell-chamber is open and bounded by four vertical concrete piers which support a tall pyramidal cap.

Façade Edit

The frontage does not differ markedly from the two side walls, including the style of the entrance canopy.

Above the canopy here is a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, standing on a little bracket attached to the brickwork, and above this in turn is a relief sculpture of the coat-of-arms of Pope St John XXIII.

Interior Edit

The interior is one vast, almost cubical space. The concrete piers in the outside walls appear here too, protruding in the same style. However, the brickwork in between them is not striped but is all red. Above a high dado of solid brickwork the bricks used are of two sizes, and are laid with little gaps so as to give the effect of vertical rows of dots and dashes.

The apses are not in bare brick, but are in a cream colour including the ceilings. The strips of wall in between them are in white.

The floor is in large polished slabs of red basalt, laid at an angle to the major axis. In front of the sanctuary, however, there is a polychrome stone abstract design described as "stellate" which is mostly in white, red and light grey.

The sanctuary is raised on two red basalt steps, protruding slightly into the nave. The altar stands on its own platform with a third step in red marble. It has the form of a thick white marble mensa with a row of Xs along its front edge, on a pedestal on the plan of the cross. This pedestal has the cross arms in red marble, with protruding heads and feet. The lectern or ambo has a matching design.

The Blessed Sacrament chapel, where Exposition is held, is in the right hand apse and outside it is a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated:

Weekdays 7:30, 9:00, 18:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 9:30, 10:45, 12:00, 18:00.

There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament daily from 8:00 to 20:00.

The Divine Office is celebrated, according to the parish website, with Lauds at 7:15 and 8:45 and Vespers at 17:45. If this is correct, the double celebration of Lauds is extremely unusual. 

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Beweb web-page

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