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San Damaso

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San Damaso is a 20th century parish church with a postal address at Via di Monteverde 10, which is just north of the Circonvallazione Gianicolense in the Gianicolense quarter and west of the Trastevere train station. The main entrance faces the Largo San Vincenzo dè Paoli. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here.

The dedication is to Pope St Damasus I.

History Edit

The parish originated in a curacy of the mother parish of Trasfigurazione di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo, which was established in 1956. It gained independence as a parish in 1961, but had to wait six years for work to begin on its permanent church. This was completed in 1969, to a design by Pasquale Carbonara -his only church in Rome.


Layout Edit

The church is on an octagonal plan, with a little triangular apse behind the altar and a large trapezoidal entrance porch. There is a ground-level crypt, and access is via a large concrete deck which abuts the edifice at its entrance, the two near diagonal sides and the right hand cardinal side where there is a side entrance. The left hand diagonal side has a little baptistery attached, on the plan of three sides of an octagon. A free-standing tower campanile is to the right of the apse, aligned with the wall of the latter.

The left hand cardinal side connects with the ancillary and presbyteral accommodation, a long four-storey block paralleling the Via Ettore Venanza.

Fabric Edit

The fabric consists of a reinforced concrete frame, infilled with pink brick. The framework begins with eight double concrete piers at the points of the octagon, the outer piers supporting projecting eave beams which themselves support the roof. The inner piers support two sets of girdle beams, the lower set seating the floor of the main church (the roof of the crypt) and the upper set being halfway up the main church walls. These beams are thick, and have a slightly recessed central band. They receive further support from a pair of thin piers in each side wall, which divide the wall into three zones of unequal width. The central zone is twice the width of the outer ones.

There is a very thin slit window adjacent to the outer side of each of these thin piers from the central girdle to the eaves, and another shorter one below the girdle which does not reach the ground. Two more window strips of the same design flank each of the double piers at the corners.

The distinctive green roof, rather like a lampshade, has steep triangular pitches from the cardinal sides of the octagon, and flatter pitches between these which join onto the triangles by means of short side pitches. In the centre is a large lantern where the roof is alternately of triangular and lozenge-shaped surfaces, meeting at the overall apex and with the bottom points of the lozenges touching the apexes of the lower triangles. There are eight stained glass windows in this lantern, shaped as irregular hexagons flattened on their vertical axes.

Campanile Edit

There is a detached tower campanile, in the same style as the exterior walls. Four tall concrete piers occupy the corners of its square plan, and each face has nine brick panels separated by thin concrete beams above the high concrete plinth. The open bell-chamber has a steep pyramidal cap, in green to match the church roof and bearing a flèche.

Façade Edit

A trapezoidal porch with a flat roof supported by two concrete piers shelters the entrance. Above it is a dedicatory inscription D.O.M. in honorem Sancti Damasi papae A.D. MCMLXIX, accompanying a Papal coat of arms in bronze of Pius XII.


The internal walls are not rendered or decorated, hence they match the exterior and give a rather Brutalist effect -especially since the shuttering marks are visible on the concrete of the roof and the beams.

There is a depiction of the Lord's Supper, in muted hues, in between the apse and the nave roofline above. This is by Mariano Villalta Lapayes, and is a notable artwork.

The tabernacle, behind the altar, is in the form of a bronze Crown of Thorns. The crucifix above the altar is also worth a look, as it is in an unusual form and has an attenuated bronze corpus on a gilded square metal plate fixed to a wooden back and accompanied by four little square plates to form the cross.

The font in the separate baptistry is worth examining, since it is a large urn in bronze and has a bronze sculpture of a cross with three doves attached to it. Here is also kept the superb paschal candlestick, sculpted in the form of a vine.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated:

Weekdays 7:30, 9:00, 19:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 10:00, 11:30, 19:00.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

Beweb web-page

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