San Massimiliano Kolbe a Via Prenestina is a 21st century parish church at Via Polizzi Generosa 71, in the suburb of Prato Fiorito in the Torre Angela zone. This is on the Via Prenestina, east of the Grande Raccordo Anulare (Circonvallazione Orientale).
The dedication is to St Maximilian Kolbe.
The parish was set up in 1984. Initially it was entrusted to the Company of Mary or Monfortiani, whose Rome headquarters are down the Via Prenestina at San Luigi Grignion de Montfort dei Monfortani. Unfortunately they could not maintain the commitment and the parish was transferred to diocesan clergy in 2000.
The permanent church was designed by Mattia del Prete, and completed in 2009. It is his only church in Rome, so far.
The church and its ancillary block occupies a parkland site, with the end of the street forming a dedicated driveway. The park contains a working vineyard, and is charmingly named Parco dell'Acqua e del Vino.
The church proper has a regular octagonal plan, with rather complicated additions:
The large ancillary block, basically a transverse rectangle, is attached to the right hand longitudinal wall, which is thus extended back and front as a party wall to form a straight line in the plan. At the front end of this wall stands a tower campanile.
The far left hand diagonal wall of the octagon has a five-sided apse or bastion occupying its central portion. This has a twin attached to the right hand diagonal wall next to the party wall mentioned above, but this wall obliterates its fifth side (look at Google Earth to make sense of this if necessary).
The left hand longitudinal side wall is extended forwards parallel to the party wall on the right, and these two walls form the further sides of a large narthex. This has a total of five sides, the front three sides mirroring those of the church's octagon behind.
The left hand diagonal side of the narthex has another five-sided apse or bastion. A small fragment of a twin is inserted into the angle between the right hand diagonal side and the campanile.
The church is a very striking edifice.
The structure is in reinforced concrete, with the blank exterior walls revetted in white limestone slabs. The longitudinal side wall to the left has a pair of triangular pilasters near either end.
The wall fenestration away from the façade is again asymmetrical. Tall window strips, running the whole height of the wall and facing transversely, are inserted in between the left hand bastions and the left hand side wall. The far left hand bastion has a wide window strip occupying its far left hand angle. Two small window strips are in the far wall behind the altar, running from ground level to about halfway up. The far right hand bastion has a pair of window strips flanking it.
The walls have integral parapets bounding the flat roof of the narthex and bastions, which is continued as narrow strips down the sides and at the back. The main roof of the church is an octagonal pagoda dome of two stages, with overhanging eaves sheltering a continuous window strip. The first stage has eight trapezoidal pitches meeting at a second octagonal window strip, sheltered by the overhanging eaves of the second stage. The eight pitches of this meet at a square lantern, each side of which has a square window and which has a tall pyramidal cap with a ball finial.
When completed the dome roof pitches and the lantern cap were in an attractive golden brown colour, but something went wrong and they are now dark grey.
All the windows are in blue anodised glass which cuts the glare inside in sunny weather.
The entrance frontal has a monumental stone arched doorway of four undecorated nested moldings without imposts, framed by an enormous almost squre pylon or frame which occupies the top and sides of the entire front of the narthex. In between the pylon and arch is a huge window of blue glass, with the fenestration inserted so as to give a rayed effect.
There are two vertical window strips flanking the pylon, and another two inserted into the internal angles of the bastions on either side.
There is a tall campanile in red brick to the right of the entrance, having a chamfered square plan and three storeys. There are two horizontal stone bands a third and two-thirds of the way up, separating the storeys, as well as a stone plinth and a coping at the top. The chamfers at the top of the tower are replaced by deep slots a little less than half the height of the third storey.
The bell-chamber is an open metal frame inserted into the open top of the third storey. This has a tall pyramidal cap.
Ancillary block Edit
The two-storey flat-roofed parish centre abutting the right hand side of the church is in red brick, contrasting with the white walls of the church. Double horizontal stripes in stone mark the tops of the two storeys.
This edifice is arranged around an interior atrium sheltered by an enormous gabled skylight in the same blue glass as used in the church.
The interior is very simple, with white walls and a wooden boarded roof with radial beams springing from the eight corners of the octagon. From the narthex, the main worshipping area is entered via an internal porch which is a large cuboid in glass panels.
The interior is dominated by an enormous mural behind the altar, painted on a slightly incurved screen wall (the actual far wall of the church is behind this). This is by Kiko Argüello, and is in traditional Russian iconic style. It depicts various events in Christ’s life.
Mass is celebrated, according to the Diocese (July 2018):
Weekdays 17:00 (18:00 in summer);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:30.