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San Giovanni Battista in Collatino is a later 20th century parish church at Via Sandro Sandri 73 in the Collatino quarter, between the Via Tiburtina and the Strada dei Parchi. The main entrance is on Via Leone Fortis, a side street. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here.
The dedication is to St John the Baptist.
The parish was established in 1964, and has administered by Opus Dei since its foundation.
The church was begun in 1961, the architects being Igino Pineschi and Antonpaolo Savio. It was completed in 1965.
The Spanish artist Manuel Caballero provided wall-paintings for the Chapel of Our Lady in 1984.
A programme of installing stained glass windows was begun in 2002 and completed in 2007.
This is a building of high quality for its period, being a modernist interpretation of the traditional basilical layout.
However, its civic presence is strangely unsatisfactory. The edifice is aligned parallel to and somewhat away from the street, with its façade looking over a gated yard and a sports field. The precinct boundary is occupied by poor-quality and ugly railings and walls.
The layout involves a four-sided polygonal narthex or entrance lobby (half a hexagon), a nave with aisles of four bays and a sanctuary of two bays. The nave is flanked by side aisles, with that of the first bay on the left extended into a trapezoidal-shaped baptistery. This, and the rest of the aisle, abut a range of single-storey ancillary accommodation to the left which joins onto the sanctuary on the left hand side of its first bay.
The last two bays of the right hand aisle lead into a large hexagonal chapel.
The plan of the central nave and sanctuary together is that of an irregular heptagon (seven sides), with two long sides forming the nave side walls, two short ones giving an angle to the entrance bay, two not so short ones either side of the sanctuary and a short one behind the altar.
The fabric consists of a reinforced concrete skeleton frame infilled with pink marble in large slabs. The bays of the nave are separated by a pair of concrete piers flanking a large rectangular window occupying the whole height between the aisle roof and just below the roofline, but the corners of the nave and sanctuary, as well as the join between the sanctuary bays, are marked by single piers. Below the roofline is a continuous window strip supported by a horizontal beam.
The sanctuary walls, unencumbered by aisles, have another window strip below the main panels at the level of the aisle roofs.
The bay walls above the aisles have a single repeated design. Each wall consists of two vertical piers crossed by one horizontal beam, and infilled by pink marble. This feature is repeated all round the church, including two such panels in the entrance façade and one behind the altar. The latter is flanked by another pair of large rectangular windows. The aisle and chapel walls are all in pink, with a single thin horizontal beam forming a continuous string-course fairly low down.
The main roof covers both nave and sanctuary, and is double-pitched with hips at both ends. The aisle, narthex and hexagonal chapels roofs are flat, and much lower. These roofs have deep eaves in light grey, which for the main roof are slightly overhanging.
There is no campanile.
The single entrance is approached by a flight of five steps, hinting that the church has a crypt.
The narthex has a frontage with a shallow angle, marked by the roofline. There is an open rectangular portal flanked by two blank pink walls with a string course low down, a continuation of the design of the aisle walls. Window strips are below the deep eaves. Above, the nave frontage is three-sided with a large central rectangular window occupying the entire central zone. Above, the roofline has a horizontal angle echoing that of the narthex.
The pink panel exterior walls with thin concrete beams and piers embedded in them appear uncovered in the interior, which is a vast and impressive space. The roof is supported by concrete beams springing from the main piers of the frame.
The nave aisles are entered from the central nave by three large rectangular portals divided the pairs of main support piers, which have gaps between them. They contain side chapels and devotional spaces.
Stained glass Edit
There is good-quality stained glass in all the windows, including the horizontal window strips which are a feature of the church's design. This strips have semi-abstract designs evoking clouds blown in the wind, but the main windows depict events in the life of St John the Baptist. The cycle begins to the left of the entrance, and proceeds round the church to the right hand side:
(Left hand nave) The Angel Appears to St Zechariah; The Visitation of Our Lady to St Elizabeth; The Birth of St John the Baptist.
(Sanctuary) The Baptism of Christ; The Vision of the Holy Trinity.
(Right hand nave) The Preaching of St John the Baptist; The Imprisonment and Martyrdom of St John the Baptist; The Burial of St John the Baptist.
(Counterfaçade) The Call of St John the Baptist in the Desert (this depiction is not part of the chronological sequence).
Amazingly for the Sixties, the sanctuary walls are decorated with polychrome stone panelling reminiscent of the ancient interior decoration of the Pantheon.
The sanctuary has been re-ordered, and is now on a yellow marble platform raised on three steps with the free-standing altar and twin lecterns in grey-veined Carrara marble. The location of the original tabernacle in the far wall is marked by a gilded mosaic depicting The Lamb of God, above which is a large old wooden crucifix.
Chapel of Our Lady Edit
The large chapel dedicated to Our Lady is off the right hand aisle. It is now also the Blessed Sacrament chapel. A 17th century painted statue of the Madonna and Child is enshrined here behind the altar.
The walls are revetted with polished limestone slabs, except for two registers of paintings, one above the other. They are in a realistic style and impressive execution, by the Spanish artist Manuel Caballero, and were painted in 1984. The upper, larger register shows various saints, and the lower one depicts events from the life of Our Lady.
According to an unofficial source, the church is open daily 7:00 to 12:00, 16:00 to 20:00.
It is specially requested that only those wishing to attend liturgical events should visit the church during them.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 7:00, 9:00, 18:30 (8:00, 18:30 in summer);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 12:15 (not summer), 18:30.