San Domenico di Guzman is a very late 20th century parish and titular church at Via Vincenzo Marmorale 25 in the area of the new suburb of Cinquina. However this locality (which seems to be called La Cesarina unofficially) is in the Tor San Giovanni zone, not the Marcigliana zone as is most of Cinquina. It is on the other side of the Grande Raccordo Anulare (Circonvallazione Settentrionale) to the north-east of the city.
The patron saint is St Dominic.
The parish was set up in 1977, but had to wait for its church. This was designed by the firm of Cooperativa Architetti e Ingegneri or CAIREPRO, begun in 1995 and completed in 2000. The chief architect in charge was Malcher Biagini.
The church was made titular as a diaconate in 2012, and the first cardinal deacon is Manuel Monteiro de Castro.
The church occupies a large corner site, and is on a slight rise away from the frontages of both streets. Landscaped areas surround it, so it has a rather coy civic presence.
The main site entrance is on the Via Vincenzo Marmorale, and is a gate in a rather boring steel railing fence which is backed here by a hedge. The church stands on an elevated platform which is revetted at this side, and which has a pair of long staircases flanking its left hand corner. This leads to a plaza in front of the actual entrance, which is paved with basalt cobbles arranged in a fan pattern. Inlaid in the cobbles is a cross in limestone, the arms of which align with two side windows flanking the main entrance.
To the left of the church is a large three-storey red brick block which is the parish centre. This is a good piece of design in its own right, and is worth a look.
The church is a rather low building, with much of the height taken by a central drum or wide turret (not a proper dome).
The overall design starts with a a circle set within a square, with the major axis on a diagonal of the square. The circle consists of the main area of worship, with the massive two-storey turret above it. The square consists of a flat roof surrounding this turret, sheltering ancillary areas within. The entrance is at one end of the major axis, and the altar at the other end. In the corner of the square beyond the altar is a tower campanile.
However, the actual ground-plan of the church is complex and does not correspond to the outline of the square. Although the exterior walls bound the square of the roof all the way round the top, they contain rectangular recesses and protruding elements lower down. There is a a protruding confessional block at the lower right hand side, matched by a similar structure on the lower left hand side which is part of the entrance arrangements of the parish centre to the left of the church.
Also, there is a larger protruding ferial (weekday Mass) chapel at the upper right hand side. The latter is interesting, because its major axis is skew to the main wall here.
The main entrance angle is recessed, and there are recessed elements in the walls at the right hand side corner and flanking the tower -these allow for the insertion of side entrance doors and windows.
The outer walls of the church are in light beige travertine limestone ashlar slabs, well cut and fitted. The slabbing includes thin horizontal strips, giving the effect of ghost string courses. The main roof is flat, and the walls are extended up beyond its roofline to provide a low safety barrier. Those protruding elements of the design mentioned, which flank the entrance, have the same makeup.
However, the ferial chapel is in red brick with an external entrance by its altar corner and a row of six well-spaced vertical rectangular windows. These window apertures pierce the wall at an angle, so as to direct light to the chapel altar.
Apart from this set and those tucked away in angles and so invisible from head-on, the outer walls lack windows.
On the flat roof is a large, low drum or turret clad in red brick, of two storeys separated by a step. The frame is in reinforced concrete. Its diameter is less than the width of the square of the roof, so you can walk around it if you are up there.
The first storey is in eight brick segments, separated by vertical gaps running from the top almost to the bottom. The bottom third of each of these has a window, and above this is a slightly recessed rectangular concrete panel which is part of the structural framework. These panels are connected by two parallel concrete string courses, and in each segment the space between these string courses is occupied by three squares in concrete. The central one of each three is occupied by a drainpipe hopper. The roofline has a slightly protruding cornice in brick, which conceals a crowning concrete ring.
The second storey is lower than the first, and is in blank brick with an identical cornice and crowning concrete ring. The roof is very slightly conical (almost flat), below the level of this ring, and has a lantern in the form of a conical flèche spire in glass.
The interesting part of the drum is invisible from the ground. Above the rectangular concrete panels mentioned, in the step between the storeys, are eight broad concrete buttresses. In between these are six skylights in each segment, in two arcs of three separated by a thinner buttress. These skylights provide most of the natural light in the church interior.
At the opposite corner to the entrance is the tower campanile. This stands within the exterior walls which meet at that corner, and which are heightened here to draw your attention. The actual corner has an angled floating balcony (facing in both directions) which matches the walls from which it protrudes.
The actual campanile is a low triangular red brick tower, with its upper section facing the drum sliced diagonally. On this is set the bell-cage, a cube assembled from metal bars with its sides aligned with the corner. Within the cube is a diagonal frame, aligned with the hypotenuse of the triangle of the tower, in which the bells are hung.
The church's main entrance occupies a cut-away corner of the edifice, the excision running from the midpoint of one side wall to that of the other on the other side of the diagonal and taking out the lower halves of both walls. The upper sections remaining of these walls are supported by a concrete pillar each. Within the void thus created is a red brick wall on the plan of three sides of an octagon, the bricklaying being of high quality and containing stripes caused by laying certain courses of bricks either in all-headers or all-stretchers. Each of the three sides has an entrance door, the central one being larger and having a relief of Christ over it.
The doors themselves are striking, since they are in light grey and have broad strips running across them in a semi-random manner rather like loose wickerwork.
Flanking the void are two protruding annexes, the confessionals to the right and an entrance to the parish offices to the left. These each have a large window with a low sill facing parallel to the side of the church, and from each a strip of limestone pavement runs across the entrance plaza to form a cross in the cobbles.
Layout and fabric Edit
The entrance is in one corner of the square of the plan of the church, and the altar is in the opposite corner. However, the interior seating layout is governed by the dominant design feature which is the circular roof.
The ferial or weekday chapel is on the far left hand side, separated from the main body of the church by a glass screen. The exit to the parish centre is in the left hand corner, and a shrine to Our Lady is in the opposite corner. Confessionals are off the near right hand side, and a pair of side entrances are in the far right hand side.
The interior is mostly in white, with a polished limestone floor. The walls flanking the entrance are in bare red brick. The walls behind the altar have the same layout, three sides of an octagon, with the central side panelled horizontally with grey marble slabs and the flanking sides in matching red brick. The free-standing altar, the president's chair to the right and the ambo or lectern to the left are in white marble inlaid with red marble from Verona. The ambo has a chi-rho symbol, and the chair a cross.
The ceilings of the ancillary areas beyond the central circle are flat, in white, and end seamlessy at a floating concrete ring on which the church's Stations of the Cross are displayed. This ring is supported by four massive concrete columns, not directly but by joining onto the outer end of a cuboidal horizontal beam on top of each column. The inner edges of these four beams support the church's so-called corona, which is a deep concrete ring pierced by vertical rectangular apertures. The four apertures over the columns lead to windows, and the corresponding four apertures midway between the columns also connect to windows by means of inserted concrete box-frames. The other apertures, seven between each pair of windows, are simply voids in the concrete.
This arrangement in the corona is altered for the sanctuary. Within the two columns on the far side of the church the corona has four apertures, but is then cut off to accommodate a hanging crucifix.
Above the apertures the corona is a solid ring. This supports the actual roof, which is a very shallow cone and has sixteen sectors panelled in varnished wood. The sectors are separated by beams, eight deep ones alternating with eight smaller and shallower ones. There is a central oculus lantern. Below this hangs a light fitting in the form of a vertical cylindrical metal cage, held in place by eight horizontal cables joining onto the larger beams near their springers.
In the circular void in between the corona and the outer ring wall are skylights, in groups of three separated by eight massive buttresses and eight thinner one from which the roof ribs spring.
The church is open daily, 7:00 to 19:00.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 9:00, 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:15, 18:30.