San Josemaria Escrivà is a modern parish church at Largo Josemaria Escrivà 7, in a new development in the district of Ardeatino to the east of EUR.
The parish is administered by Opus Dei, whose founder the patron saint Josemaria Escrivà was. It should be noted that his name is kept in the original Spanish, that is, Jose not Giuseppe. This is the only church in the Rome, the name of which begins with a "J".
It is a large, high-quality red brick building in a derivative neo-Romanesque style ("neo-historicist"), of a rather 1930’s idiom, designed by Santiago Hernandez and completed in 1996.
The plan is trapezoidal, the width narrowing towards the altar in vertical steps, and there is a rectangular external apse. The roof is pitched and tiled, and the external walls are in pink brick with white marble architectural details. The entrance façade has an external flat-roofed portico of three arches, with iron railing gates and with marble trim to the arches and roofline. To either side are long loggias, running beyond the width of the church to ancillary buildings, and these are set slightly back from the porch and have four square openings each with railings instead of arches. Above the porch on the nave frontage is a row of vertical rectangular stained glass windows in marble frames, and to each side a pair of smaller ones.
There is a relief of the Holy Family below the gabled roofline by Romano Cosci.
The campanile is attached to the left hand side of the church, and is a square brick tower with a marble string course below the bellchamber and a pair of rectangular sound-holes framed in marble on each side, of the same style as the pairs of smaller windows on the façade. There is a relief of an angel by Cosci on its left hand corner. Between the church and the street is a finely-paved piazza, separated from the car park by a screen of trees.
The interior is richly appointed for a modern church. The floor is granite, the walls are of travertine and the high altar is of marble. The flat ceiling is coffered, and decorated with rosettes.
The spectacular altarpiece is by Armando Pareja, and consists of six separate paintings in a very realistic neo-Baroque style. The figurative allegory of the Trinity in the topmost one is a rare modern example of an old Western iconographic tradition. Also rather unfashionable in the same painting are the glorious swarms of putti accompanying the patron saint on the left, and the Holy Family on the right. In the painting of the Crucifixion immediately above the altar the artist has successfully attempted to portray the contemporary dress of those present with historical fidelity. Worthy of note also are the statue of Our Lady of Carmel, looking Baroque but actually dating from 1975, the Stations of the Cross in bronze (also by Cosci) and the painting by Pareja of the Baptism of Jesus in the separate baptistery. There is also a weekday chapel dedicated to SS Peter and Paul, with a mosaic of Our Lady Queen of Heaven.
The organ is one of the best in Rome.
Anybody interested in modern churches, and who is a little tired of simplistic Modernist interpretations of the neo-Romanesque style, should visit this superb building. The 716 bus from Teatro Marcellino runs to there, as does the 772 from the Laurentina metro terminus.