San Luca a Via Prenestina is a mid 20th century parish and titular church with a postal address at Via Luchino Dal Verme 50, in the centre of the Prenestino-Labicano quarter. This address is the back door, since the main entrance is on the Largo di San Luca Evangelista to the south. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.
The dedication is to St Luke the Evangelist.
The parish was erected in 1956, and the church opened in the following year. It was designed by the partnership of Lucio and Vincenzo Passarelli.
The church was made titular in 1969, and the present cardinal priest is José Freire Falcão.
There was a major re-ordering of the sanctuary in 1998, with the addition of mosaics.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church was designed in a Modernist style, vaguely based on the traditional neo-Romanesque basilica. It is on a rectangular plan of nine structural bays, with an attached horizontally rectangular annexe at the sanctuary end and ancillary accommodation attached to the right hand side.
The structure is defined by the reinforced concrete roof and its supporting piers, which separate the central nave and side aisles within and are not visible from the outside. The external walls in red brick are screens, and are not load-bearing. The roof has a complex form, which at the entrance and sanctuary ends is flat either side of a false gable. In between, there are eight transverse ridges of triangular cross-section (think Toblerone bars), and in the valley between each pair of ridges is a central transverse rhomboidal pyramid.
The church is approached via a flight of steps, because it is built over a crypt. The metal railing entrance gate at the bottom of the steps is of unusual quality, and has an interesting design.
If you look round the corner at the left hand side wall of the church, which is easily viewed from the street, you will see that the further part of the nave has a row of very large vertical rectangular windows, with concrete mullions in the form of a cross. Also, you will see that the blank red brick wall does not reach to the roof but stops at a fenestration zone below the eaves which is diapered in lozenge mullions. This tells you straight away that the wall is non-supporting. There are two similar enormous vertical windows either side of the apse. The apse wall beind the altar is not brick, but concrete cast in the form of interlocking triangles running from top to bottom.
The tall detached tower campanile is to also to the left of the church, at the far end. It has a rectangular plan, with a concrete pilaster on each corner and the narrower sides open, with horizontal beams like the rungs of a ladder. The wider sides have beams as well, but are infilled in red brick. The bells are in the open flat-roofed storey at the top.
The gabled façade has three vertical zones. The central zone, twice as wide as the outer ones, is of blank red brick. The entrance doorway is also simply brick.
However, over the entrance is a floating canopy bearing a very large square stone tablet displaying a series of ceramic sculptures in high relief, which depict Biblical scenes associated with St Luke. This ensemble is by Angelo Biancini 1963. There are two main depictions: St Luke Indicates the Madonna and Child with Angels, and St Luke the Evangelist (with his ox above him). There are eight smaller scenes (left to right, top to bottom): The Boy Jesus in the Temple, The Calming of the Storm, The Voyages of St Paul, The Arrest of Christ, The Condemnation of Christ, The Rich Young Man, The Prodigal Son and The Gerasene Daemoniac.
The outer two zones of the façade are both entirely made up of window, with the mullions diapered (criss-crossing on the diagonal) to make a pattern of horizontally aligned diamond lozenges. Over each of these two enormous windows is placed a very large vertical concrete pillar bearing a ridge all along its height, and having three horizontal beams on each side. The underside of these beams is sloped, giving the whole ensemble the vague appearance of a tree.
These two windows are slightly recessed, hence the side walls appear to protrude slightly. The concrete gable roofline also protrudes, and at its outer ends is horizontal (this is because it is the end of the concrete roof).
The inside roof follows the pattern of the external one, and hence displays a spectacular pattern of interlocking triangular voids. It is painted white, as are the side walls.
There are very narrow aisles, created by the pillars of the concrete frame of the edifice standing away from the side walls and attached by two horizontal beams each. These pillars are in cream-coloured concrete and taper towards the top, rather like chisels. On them are a set of the Stations of the Cross in ceramic, by Bianchi and part of the same 1963 commission as the entrance panel.
The right hand aisle contains a neo-Baroque polychrome wooden statue of St Luke, in a recess with an abstract mosaic background. A ceramic triptych of the Annunciation in the same aisle is again by Bianchi, and is in a vaguely mediaeval style.
The windows are all of clear plate glass, so the interior is filled with natural light.
The wall behind the altar, and the walls under the windows either side of the sanctuary, are entirely covered with good modern mosaics by one R. Campanile. These focus on a gilded bronze crucifix, with Our Lady and St John represented on either side. Figurative representations of God the Father and Holy Spirit are at the top. Below the crucifix is Christ Pantocrator, flanked by interesting architecural studies in mosaic of rooms with views and cloth hangings in red. To the right of the altar is a small late mediaeval icon of the Madonna and Child, and to the left is the tabernacle with a mosaic of loaves and fishes, looking very Classical, on the door. The outer walls under the windows have crowds of adoring apostles.
The font, in the top right hand corner, is a circular tub with a stylized mosaic ribbon in blue around it symbolizing water. To the left, the ambo or pulpit has mosaic representations of the symbols of the Evangelists on it.
This is one of the best churches of the Fifties in Rome, and is worth visiting.
Mass is celebrated, according to the parish website:
Weekdays 7:30 (Monday and Friday), 8:30, 9:30, 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:15, 12:15, 18,30.
This is very generous for an ordinary suburban parish church.
External Mass centres Edit
The church has two dependent chapels on separate sites:
Resurrezione di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo a Via Prenestina. Mass is celebrated here on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 17:30, and on Sundays (and Solemnities) at 9:30 and 10:30. This chapel is public, and is administered by the Diocese.
Scuole Sacro Cuore, which is at Via Alberto da Giussano 93. This is a private school chapel, but the public can attend certain Masses:
Weekdays 6:50; Sundays and Solemnities 17:30 (day before), 8:00, 11:00.
A third chapel, Nostra Signora di Fatima at Via Ariano Irpino 31, has been closed down and the premises disposed of. This was a shop unit.