San Giuliano a Via Cassia is a late 20th century parish and titular church at Via Cassia 1036, at the west end of the suburban zone of Tomba di Nerone and near the Grande Raccordo Anulare (Circonvallazione Settentrionale). Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.
The parish was set up in 1980, and the church begun in 1990. It was completed in 1995, the architect being Igino Pineschi. This edifice is a superb late Modernist design, with a quirkiness which gives it a postmodern flavour,
The church is set well back from the road, and at a much higher level. The architect dealt with the sloping site by providing two terraces in front of the church which overlook a spacious courtyard used as a car park. The latter has a rather ugly mesh steel fence separating it from the road, with walling in the lower left hand corner flanking the vehicular entrance gate. The pedestrian gate in the fence is on the church's major axis. The yard is paved in the same pink brick as is used in the church fabric, except for a double line in white leading from this pedestrian gate. This feature acts as a guide path to the church entrance.
The yard is flanked by brick walls, low on the left where there is ornamental planting and high on the right. The right hand wall is matched by a revetting wall straight ahead which has sections in slightly differing heights. It is broken by a short flight of stairs leading to a second courtyard occupying the first terrace, and curves round at its left hand end to flank the lower end of an access ramp which runs up to the second terrace on which the church stands. The guide path leads to the stairs, which are flanked by two short sections of wall.
The second courtyard is also fully paved in brick, and also has two white lines as a guide path. The revetting wall for the second terrace also has a set of stairs targetted by this guide, which lead to the church's entrance canopy and which are also flanked by lengths of longitudinal wall. This second revetting wall curves round to the left to flank the ramp, and has a sort of aedicule with flanking pilasters on each side of the stairs. The length of wall to the right of the stairs is set back from the line of that on the left.
The church entrance has a very long canopy, with a triangular glass roof supported by the two parallel brick walls flanking the second set of stairs mentioned. This canopy inserts into a large square portal in the square blank brick frontage of the entrance foyer, the upper part of which rises above the church roofline. This upper section has a vertical slot down from the top edge to the concrete lintel of the portal, into which is inserted the base of a cross of metal rods. The frontage itself is slightly bowed -it has an outward curve.
The entrance foyer has the same width as the church's central nave. To either side is a recessed doorway leading to the side aisles, with a pair of vertical rectangular concrete panels over the short passageway to the door. These passages are flanked by two towers on a square plan at the corners of the façade, which have broken symmetry. The right hand one is a rectangular brick box lacking its top and front above a short height containing a door, and is overall same height as the central frontage. However, the left hand one is the campanile. It is taller, has no back either (just two parallel side walls) and the bells are hung in a metal cage at the top. A metal spiral staircase leading to the case is in full view.
This quirky façade design is reminiscent of Strasbourg Cathedral.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church is structurally a nave with side aisles, based on a rectangular plan and with distinctive blank walls in pink brick. The side aisles are occupied by ancillary spaces, including a ferial chapel at the far end of the right hand one.
The fabric is in brick, infilling a reinforced concrete frame.
The roof is flat, but has a complex layout. The central section, from entrance to altar, is occupied by three equal-sized squares which are higher than the rest of the roof and rise like three steps from entrance to altar (this feature echoes the courtyard layout in front of the church). The highest one has a pyramidal skylight. The left hand aisle is lit by three long skylights of triangular cross-section, parallel to the side wall. The right hand side has two square towers with skylights in the top, the same height as the right hand entrance tower, and on the far side a cylindrical tower containing a skylight. A line of three longitudinal skylight strips is over the left hand aisle, and midway in the side walls of each square unit of the central nave is a thin vertical window strip.
The interior layout is traditionally basilical, with the ferial (weekday) chapel in the far right hand corner. The central nave has side colonnades, with the three columns on each side in rough-cast concrete. The vertical shuttering marks are visible. The columns are topped by square imposts, which support the central nave side walls. These are also in raw concrete, with horizontal shuttering marks and are double, and each has a gap showing on the underside supported by the columns.
The floor is geometrically paved in rectangles, squares and triangles in black and white.
The roof is in three square bays, separated by transverse double slab beams, which have window strips below their ends in the side walls. These strips align with the columns. The height of the bays ascend towards the altar. Each roof bay contains a further four double slab beams, two longitudinal and two transverse so as to form the pattern of a cross.
The aisle side walls are in the same red brick as the exterior, and their roofs are supported by horizontal double slab-beams dividing them into three bays each.
The far wall of the central nave is in blank concrete, above the rectangular portal into the sanctuary which occupies the width of the nave. A further pair of concrete columns support the far corners of the nave, but these are each concealed by a pair of longitudinal brick walls.
The free-standing altar is just in front of the near edges of these walls. It is in grey stone, with a cross motif on the frontal which is flanked by nested right angles in relief. The sanctuary floor on which it stands intrudes into the nave, and is raised on two steps. To the left is the lectern or ambo, in the same style as the altar. The rectangular sanctuary bay proper contains bench seating for the ministers, each place having a slab of the grey stone on the wall over it.
Over the altar hangs a thin cross in wood (not a crucifix).
According to the Diocese, the church is open:
Daily 7:30 to 12:30, 16:00 to 19:00.
Mass is celebrated:
Sundays and Solemnities 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 19:00.
Cappella delle Suore Dominicane di Santa Maria dell'Arco Edit
The parish also has a public Mass centre at the convent of the Suore Dominicane di Santa Maria dell'Arco. This is the formation house of the congregation, named Mater Dei, and is at Via Cassia 993 which is only a short distance away on the other side of the road.
The convent is an ordinary flat-roofed mid 20th century villa, and the chapel is an extension tacked onto it in the front garden. Look for the campanile, a little trapezoidal concrete tower with a single bell-aperture.
Mass is celebrated publicly on Saturdays at 7:30.
(The former Tuesday Mass at the same time has been discontinued, and the proximity of the convent to the parish church must render the future of this chapel very uncertain).