San Cleto is a late 20th century parish church at Via Bernardino Bernardini 55, in the north of the San Basilio quarter and just south of the Via Nomentana. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.
The dedication is to Pope St Cletus, next pope but one after St Peter.
The parish originated as a curacy within the mother parish of Sant’Achille, which was set up in 1958. This was in response to the area being developed as a very casual suburb. Sub-standard accommodation had been built illegally, without social amenities, utilities or proper transport links. The bad reputation that the locality acquired among ordinary Romans has persisted to the present day.
The curacy was entrusted to the Congregazione di Gesù Sacerdote, which continued in charge when the parish was erected in 1965. However, the provision of a permanent church was seriously delayed. This was designed by Enrico Savelli, and completed in 1995 (the consecration was in the following year).
There is confusion online as to the architect -Ildefonso Savelli has been mentioned. Corrado Volpetti also has been mentioned as a collaborator.
The mosaic work of the sanctuary was executed by Don Gianpiero Maria Arabia, a priest of the diocese.
In 1999, a neighbouring parish was created -Sant'Agostina Pietrantoni. This was provided with a temporary church, and entrusted to the CGS clergy of San Cleto until (hopefully) a permanent church is built. The parish's territory is still being developed for housing. The administrative union of two parishes explains the title of the parish website (Parrochia San Cleto e Sant'Agostina) which is misleading.
Overall, this modern church is rewarding artistically and well worth visiting.
Layout and fabric Edit
The plan is of an irregular heptagon; the entrance end is of half an octagon, the side walls are two sides of this extended and the altar end is triangular.
The fabric comprises a reinforced concrete frame, with brick infill.
The exterior walls are low, in yellow brick with a projecting rectangular pier at each corner and horizontal concrete beams in pale yellow supporting the roof. The piers are rendered in a cream colour, except for the pair flanking the entrance.
There are twenty-one stained glass windows in a group in each side wall, and larger windows occupying the far side walls which give most of the natural light to the interior.
The roof is sheathed in metal, with projecting eaves supported by the piers. It starts out flat, but curves up from all sides like a collapsed tent to form a flèche rather like a small lighthouse. Examination from the side (Via Nicola Mana Nicolai is a good place to view) will reveal that this structure leans towards the altar. It has a lighthouse-type lantern on top with blue and yellow glass panes, crowned by two semi-circular hoops and a cross.
The detached campanile has a trefoil plan, formed of three thin concrete slabs on edge placed together to meet at a point. One is twice as wide as the other two. The top of the campanile is formed by these slabs sloping up diagonally from near the top (the two narrower slabs) or halfway up (the wide slab). The three small bells are hung in round holes cut in the wider slab.
The entrance façade, which faces onto a piazza off the street, is very simple.
The piers flanking the entrance wall are clad in rough-cut travertine limestone blocks, and a frieze in the same material runs below the concrete structural beam just below the roof. The single entrance doorcase fits in under this. That is all.
The spectacular wooden roof dominates the interior. It is in pinewood, stained but not varnished, and has deep curved laminated vertical beams with horizontal planking in between.
The near side walls are in white blocks, with small stained glass panels (forty-two in all) depicting Old and New Testament scenes from the Creation up to the Annunciation.
The floor is in Carrara marble, with a geometric pattern of nested squares in dark grey on a white background.
The sanctuary furnishings bear mosaics in figurative and geometric designs reminiscent of Cosmatesque work. This is by Giampiero Arabia, who is a priest of the diocese.
There is a screen wall behind the altar, which conceals a sacristy in the far corner of the church. This bears a large mosaic showing a vine bearing grapes, and also present is the Lamb of God and two Eucharistic symbols in the form of a bunch of ripe wheat and some fish. In front of this wall is a row of seven celebrants' chairs and two small tables in marble with geometric mosaic decoration.
The altar has a mosaic of Christ the Teacher in Byzantine style, and the lectern has one of St Gabriel with vine tendrils on either side.
Side chapels Edit
The baptistery is to the right of the sanctuary. The font has a mosaic of the Baptism of Christ by St John the Baptist.
To the left is a statue of St Cletus, in wood with painting and gilding and standing on a plinth with a mosaic of wheat stalks.
The church's shrine of Our Lady is a free-standing concave screen wall with a painted wooden statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, by Ortisei 1906. This has a mosaic mandorla with stylized stars in a pattern of some complexity.
Interestingly, the statue's iconography deviates from the norm for Our Lady of Lourdes, which depicts her with bare feet having a yellow rose on each foot. Here, she is wearing leather sandals.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 7:30 (winter, but all year Saturdays), 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 10:00 (not summer), 11:30 (11:00 summer), 18:30.
There is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Thursdays in winter, from 16:30 to 18:00.
Lauds is celebrated at 7:15, Mondays to Fridays in winter and Saturdays (only) in summer.
Vespers is celebrated at 18:15 Mondays to Fridays, but on Thursdays in winter this is at 18:30. On Saturdays and Sundays the celebration is at 18:00.
"Summer" here is from the feast of SS Peter and Paul to the last Sunday in September, and obviously a lot of the parishioners want to be elsewhere then.