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San Cirillo Alessandrino comprises two churches. A 21st century parish church is at Viale Giorgio Morandi 91, which is in the suburb of Tor Sapienza in the district of the same name. This has replaced the former mid 20th century parish church at Via Carlo Balestrini 34, which was conventual and is now deconsecrated.
The dedication is to St Cyril of Alexandria.
Old church Edit
The parish was established in 1963, although its church is considered to be the descendant of the old Sant’Anna a Tor Tre Teste which itself was a rural chapel under the care of the canons of San Giovanni in Laterano.
When suburban development finally began of the formerly thinly populated area in the mid 20th century, a proper church was built just off the Via Prenestina to replace the chapel which had become derelict. This was designed by Gioacchino Campini, and completed in 1963.
The church and parish were given into the care of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (the Timon David Fathers), who established a convent here as their Rome headquarters. This is a French congregation, based at Marseilles.
New church Edit
The major problem with the church was its location, although it was also rather small and lacked ancillary facilities. The site chosen for it was, for some reason, up a very narrow dead-end street which made wheeled access difficult.
In 2008, a new church for the parish was begun in a newly laid-out part of the suburb, and completed in 2012. The architectural firm involved was Cairepro, and the supervising architect was Maicher Biagini.
The Timon David Fathers gave up the parish when it moved, and it is now in the care of diocesan clergy.
According to both the website of the Diocese, and that of the congregation, the convent is still active. However, this is incorrect as the Father have moved out and the church was deconsecrated in 2013. In the same year the church and convent complex was squatted by several homeless families, who were still in residence in the following year.
Appearance of old churchEdit
Layout and fabric Edit
The old church is hidden away down a narrow cul-de-sac, and is not well known. However, it is an interesting building.
It is aligned parallel to the street, and is part of a long block including the convent premises. The latter is flat-roofed, of two storeys, and on top of the roof is a little concrete campanile or bell-cote with a round-headed aperture and a triangular top. The bell has been removed.
The plan is rectangular. There is a nave of seven bays, then a sanctuary of one bay and finally a three-sided apse.
The fabric is in reinforced concrete, involving a frame with infill walls. Overall the walls are painted in a pale orange (this includes the convent) which is peeling badly in places. The nave side walls have, unusually, two storeys. Each wall of the first storey has seven blank concrete piers supporting a massive concrete beam, which in turn supports fourteen free-standing short square concrete piers which themselves support the roofline. There is a tiled strip just in front of the bases of these, and the wall slopes back behind the piers. There are seven windows, one to each nave bay.
The convent attaches to the back of the apse. The sanctuary bay side walls each have a rectangular window above an extension of the horizontal beam in the nave wall already mentioned. This beam is also extended all along the frontage of the convent to separate its two storeys, which is an effective design quirk.
As a result of the batter of the second storey nave walls, the nave roof overhangs substantially. It is pitched, and seems to be in metal sheeting. The sanctuary has its own impressive roofing arrangements, which amount to a dome without a drum. Five triangular sectors occupy five sides of a heptagon, with the other two sides taken up by a large chevron-shaped window facing down the ridge of the nave roof.
The façade has an internal loggia, with three rectangular portals the central one of which is twice the width of the other two. They are separated by square piers in red brick, which support a horizontal brick frieze. Above, the façade is in the same pale orange as the rest of the church. There is a large recessed round-headed window with a brick frame. The façade is flanked by a pair of gigantic engaged brick piers reaching up to the side rooflines.
The façade faces onto a court paved with irregular pieces of stone in a style that the English call "crazy paving".
Layout and fabric Edit
The new church is part of a larger social amenity complex.
The actual church edifice is on a square plan. There is a monumental entrance propylaeum added on to the square in the plan, which occupies the entire width of the entrance side of the church. In front of this is a projecting central porch. Attached to the right hand side is a lower single-storey flat-roofed extension, on a trapezoidal plan with its frontage at an angle to, and receding from, that of the church. This contains the ferial chapel and ancillary facilities.
The church has a reinforced concrete frame, and the main walls are clad in travertine limestone ashlar slabs. Attached to the left hand wall are two small appendices, the nearer one being a thin longitudinal rectangle and the further one a right angled triangle. These have blank walls in bright red brick. The near one comprises the confessionals, and the far one is an ancillary seating area to the left of the sanctuary inside.
At the back there is another red brick appended structure, which itself attaches to the substantial amenity complex. This is laid out in a T plan to the right of the church, and behind the ferial chapel wing. Attached to it is a small semi-circular open-air theatre in the ancient Greek mode. The red brick annexe contains a shallow segmental sanctuary apse.
The church is surrounded by red brick paving.
The roof of the church is unusual.
The entrance propylaeum is higher than the actual church behind it. The roof of the latter has a horizontally-topped parapet all around it, indistinguishable from the main walls. The roof itself, clad in metal panelling, is in two longitudinal halves. The first half has a sloping pitch upwards from front to back, and the side walls of the church have two vertical slots cut in them just behind the propylaeum to allow for gutter drainage.
The back half of the roof is divided further, into three zones. The central zone is square, flanked by two identically sized rectangles. The roof of the right hand one is flat, as is the front and back of the left hand one.
The central square zone is slightly rectangular, and is mostly occupied by a landmark turret the top of which is a small flat-roofed square which fits (in the plan) into the far left hand corner of the larger square footprint of the turret. This turret has a slight gap between it and the far side roof parapet.
The turret has sloping faces at front and to the right, clad in the same material as the rest of the roof. The left hand side is vertical, but has a sloping section of roof attached to the lower part which has a right angled triangular window in front and to the left of the base of the turret. The back of the turret is occupied by a large stained glass window.
Attached to the church at the back is a tower campanile on a square plan, not on the major axis but just to the left and aligned with the top of the turret. It attaches to the back of the turret to the left of its stained glass window. The exterior is mostly in ashlar limestone, but the upper far surfaces of the sides, the front above the top of the turret and the back above the church roofline are all in glass with vertical bar mullions. Below the church roofline the tower has a segmental cylindrical form attached to its entire width.
The church's domain is enclosed by a green-painted railing fence on a low limestone wall. There is a main gate leading into the secure car park, and a side gate leading to the church entrance. There is a guide-path laid between the latter gate and the entrance along the line of the church's major axis, in polished limestone slabs with a central black stripe.
The propylaeum has an upwardly sloping roof of its own, supported by two pairs of massive longitudinal slab piers. The roofline has a fascia, which is clad in polished limestone slabs as are the piers and the actual church wall at the back of the propylaeum void. Over this frontage wall is a deep window strip in clear glass, and the gap between each pair of piers is also taken up by window.
The diagonally aligned ferial chapel annexe to the left of the church also has a rectangular void portal surrounded by limestone revetment, with the entrances within surrounded by red brick. Here, the fascia bears a dedicatory epigraph: A San Cirillo Vescovo di Alessandria in Egitto.
This annexe meets the right hand side wall of the church behind the propylaeum. Project the line of its frontage through the near right hand church corner, and where the line emerges from the façade it forms the hypotenuse of an entrance canopy on the plan of a right angle. This is flat-roofed, is clad in limestone with a deep fascia and is supported by a single square pier at its front corner.
The interior is, like many contemporary Roman churches, quite small. The area is mostly taken up by seating for the congregation, with a subsidiary seating area in a little triangular alcove in the top left hand corner. The red brick screen walls to the left before this conceal the confessionals.
The right hand side has a glass screen wall, beyond which is the ferial chapel for weekday Masses.
The interior is dominated by the roof, which has enormous transverse plank-beams in laminated pine wood in the half nearest the entrance, and then rises abruptly into the void of the turret. The far side of the latter has a large triangular window.
The nave floor is in white ceramic tiles, but the raised sanctuary is paved in polished limestone. There is a shallow and low segmental apse also revetted in limestone, but above this the far wall is in white. The same colour is used for the upper side walls.
A structural gallery occupies a wedge-shaped void above the top left hand corner, but there seems to have been some hesitation as to what to do with this space.
A metal crucifix with a gilded corpus on a copper (?) cross is on the wall above the apse.
Bus number 543 stops outside the new church (Morandi-Campigli) on its outward journey from a connection with tram 14 at Forte Prenestino. However, here it is on a one-way loop and you need to pick it up to return at a stop north of the road junction to the north-west.
It is worthwhile visiting the old church if you are interested in mid-20th century ecclesiastical architecture, but the future of the building is in serious doubt (2016). It is just off the Via Prenestina.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 18:00 (18:30, June to September);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00 (not August), 18:00 (18:30, June to September).
The parish has a public Mass centre at Sant’Antonio da Padova dell’Omo.
Cairepro web-page (the gallery is of virtual reality images, not photos)