San Giuseppe all'Aurelio is a mid 20th century parish and titular church at Via Boccea 362, in the suburb of Monte Spaccato in the Primavalle quarter.
The Oblates of St Joseph (Giuseppini d'Asti) was an institute of religious life founded in 1878 by St Joseph when he was a priest of Asti, before he became bishop of Acqui. It established its headquarters at Via Boccea 364, where it built a Generalate.
In 1956, the institute commissioned Ildo Avetta and Giulio Sciascia to build a private chapel for the Generalate. Then, in 1960, it entered into a project to found a new parish church which it would serve. The same architects were employed for its construction.
The parish was established in 1963 and the church was finally completed in 1970. It was made titular in 1991, the present cardinal being Gérald Lacroix.
Layout and fabric Edit
This is an impressive edifice, to a Modernist design. The plan is vaguely basilical, based on a rectangle for the central nave of five bays and an irregular hexagon (with its short axis continuing the major axis of the nave) as a transept containing the sanctuary. The church improves its civic presence by being side-on to the main road.
The side walls of the nave show the concrete framework of the structure as five lunette arches on each side, supported by concrete piers running from ground to roofline onto which are fixed drainpipes. They provide a motif reminiscent of an ancient aqueduct, except that the lunette archivolts lean out slightly. The blank infill side walls are of large yellowish tufa ashlar blocks, decorated with thin horizontal stripes of grey concrete in between every two courses. Inserted into lunettes are five windows on each side.
The further four bays of the nave have side aisles. These have concrete half-domes on their flat roofs. The aisle to the left, facing the main road, has its bays separated by vertical rectangular niches. A vertical strip window is round the corner from the exterior wall in each niche, facing the church entrance, except for the niche separating the last bay from the transept. Correspondingly, the first bay's window is not in a niche, but out in the open since the first bay of the nave is aisle-less.
The right hand aisle is joined onto a covered walkway leading from the street to the ancillary parish accommodation, and does not have a frontage.
The external transept walls are entirely blank. Each transept end has an arch for the roofline similar to those of the nave, except that there are no visible concrete piers supporting it. The angled wall behind the altar is also blank, except for two very narrow triangular windows under the gable.
The roofs are concrete vaults, one for the nave and one for the transept. The nave roofline is wavy, following the curves of the lunette arches, and the very low pitch of the roof accommodates this waviness which decreases with height to its ridge. The transept roof has four pitches, the transverse ones being similarly curved.
The façade is sheltered by a very large triangular canopy projecting from the low gable as a continuation of the roof vault, and this is supported by a pair of gigantic concrete piers set into the façade and dividing it into three vertical zones. The entrance is in between these piers, with a floating glass canopy sloping downwards. The walls on either side of the pilasters are of the same makeup as the side walls, but in between them above the entrance the lower course of yellow bricks in each stripe are laid with gaps, thus creating a grid pattern of little rectangular holes. There is a large window inserted under the gable canopy.
The fenestration of the entrance is attractively designed with crosses, and over the entrance is a ceramic sculpture of St Joseph the Husband of Our Lady, with the Christ-child.
The spacious interior is one unit, since the sanctuary is not marked out structurally. The interior walls have exactly the same appearance as the outside ones, as they are not painted or rendered and so the striped fabric is prominent. The windows are in clear glass, and the wavy concrete vault is painted white.
The side aisles have arcades of segmental concrete arches separated by the piers supporting the vault, with horizontal concrete strut-beams under each archivolt at the springers. These archivolts open into half-domes also painted white, but the arches and piers are painted in dark grey.
There is a portrait of St Joseph Marello over the entrance. The side aisles display a set of ceramic Stations of the Cross by Vasco Nasorri 1981.
The sanctuary is all bare walls, but in the oblique angle behind the altar is a very large metal cross in a style rather recalling jewellery of the Dark Ages. To the right of this is a tapestry depicting St Joseph and the Christ-Child Venerated by Angels, which was made in the Vatican workshops in 1915 but which lost its original commissioner and was put in store for half a century. To the left is a work by Nasorri in ceramic tiles, entitled Ite ad Ioseph ("Go to Joseph -Genesis 41:55") which is an enormous reproduction of a page in a mediaeval illuminated manuscript together with scenes from the life of the husband of Our Lady.
Near the altar is a Last Supper by one E. Hotis, 1981. A side chapel with an altar dedicated to St Joseph Marello has another ceramic by Nasorri depicting the saint with scenes from his career.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 8:00, 9:00 (not July to September), 18:00 (July to September 19:00);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 10:00, 11:30, 18:00 (July to September 19:00).
The Divine Office is celebrated with Lauds with the 9:00 Mass on weekdays, and Vespers with the 18:00 ditto.
There is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every Tuesday at 17:00.
There is Rosary daily at 17:30.
Cappella della Clinica Villa Aurora Edit
The private chapel at the Clinica Villa Aurora, a hospital at Via Mattia Battistini 44, has a Mass on Sundays at 9:30 which the public can attend. The edifice is an ugly, functional building put up in 1971 and the chapel has no architectural identity or dedication.
Chapel of the Generalate Edit
The private convent chapel of the Generalate of the Giuseppini is part of the convent complex to the west of the church. It was built as a stand-alone edifice in 1956 by the same architects as erected the church.
It is of two storeys on a stretched hexagonal plan, with the actual chapel occupying the upper level. The walls are of the same sort of tufa blocks as the church, but without the stripes.
This is a private chapel, but you can view the exterior from the Via Adriano I.