San Gregorio Barbarigo is a 20th century parish and titular church, with its postal address as Via delle Montagne Rocciose 14 on the east side of in the EUR quarter. Users of the Laurentina metro terminus and bus station may be familar with it, as the main entrance is on the Via Laurentina opposite the station turnoff.
The church is usually merely known as San Gregorio Barbarigo, and this is its official name. As is often the case of cardinalate titles, the title of this church adds a geographic location -San Gregorio Barbarigo alle Tre Fontane. It is, however, not very near the abbey of Tre Fontane and the church has nothing to do with it.
The parish was originally set up in 1964, soon after St Gregory Barbarigo was canonized in 1960. Pope St John XXIII had a great devotion to him, and inserted him into the General Calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. The new church at Rome was part of the promotion of his cult.
Unfortunately, the saint was removed from the calendar after less than ten years.
The church was designed by Giuseppe Vaccaro in 1970, and completed two years later. Gualterio Gualtieri was the on-site building manager of the project, since Vaccaro unfortunately died in the year that he drew the design.
The cardinalate title was instituted in 1973. The present titular priest is Bernard Panafieu.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church is a white concrete building with a flat roof, sitting on a terrace raised above the level of the roadway. This is a prominent and civically important site, and arguably a superb opportunity for a monumental presentation was missed.
The plan is complicated. It is based on a circle with a semi-circle of somewhat smaller radius offset to the east, the arc of this being slightly rotated off the axis of symmetry. To the south there is another semi-circle facing east, with a square extension running east and meeting the previous semi-circle. The two semi-circles trace out a reverse S.
It will probably be necessary to look at Google Earth (available on the info.roma web-page) to make sense of this.
The main circle has its own flat concrete roof covered in composition with a central lantern offset towards the altar, and the "reverse S" has a slightly lower flat roof of the same kind. There is a window strip where the two roof join.
From the street, one can see the blank rough concrete wall of the larger semi-circle, together with the white wall of the square extension. This has three large recessed vertical rectangular stained glass windows reaching from bottom to roofline. One is on its own near the left hand corner, and two are in a pair separated by a projecting concrete slab towards the right hand side.
The long flat white concrete entrance canopy runs some distance from the road to the doorway in the south of the church and onwards to the priests' house. The road end has a formal double transverse set of stairs. To the left of the stairs is the campanile, which is made from three steel poles set in a triangle. The road side of the triangle is open, but the other two sides have horizontal struts. One pole continues above the two triangular bellchamber to end in a cross. The whole structure is painted red.
The rather dim interior has a main circular sanctuary space with the free-standing altar at the far end raised on steps. The pews are arranged in a fan-shaped arrangement focusing on this. The ceiling is flat, with a lantern offset so that it sheds light on the altar.
To the left of the altar is a good organ installed in 1998, with its pipes arranged in a decoratively wavy pattern on the wall.
In 2008 a large mural altarpiece by Piero Casentini measuring 15m by 5m was completed. It depicts the Ascension of Christ, and is in a restrained neo-Byzantine style. Christ is shown ascending in a mandorla held by four angels, with two others holding the Cross and Crown of Thorns. The twelve apostles (who is number twelve? There should only be eleven) are shown in two rows, with St Gregory at the far left and Pope St John XXIII to the right. Our Lady is also present of course, but with bare feet which is a stylistic mistake (she was never depicted in this way in Byzantine iconography).
To the right of the main space is the semi-circular annexe mentioned in the exterior description, which contains more seating and statues of the Stations of the Cross.
The separate Chapel of Our Lady is on the near right, in the square zone visible from the street, and contains a stone statue of her flanked by vertical strips of stained glass mostly in blue.
The church is open (according to the parish website) 7:00 to 19:00 daily.
No lunchtime closure, then, which is still unusual in Rome (2015).
Mass is celebrated, according to the parish website:
Daily 7:30, 8:30 (not summer), 18:30 (19:00 summer);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00 (not summer), 11:30 (not summer), 12:30 (not summer), 19:00.
"Summer" is 1 July to 13 September.
Note that the Diocesan web-page has different Mass times, which are presumably out of date.
The Solemnity of St Gregory Barbarigo is on 18 June.