San Mauro Abate is a late 20th century parish church with a postal address at Via Francesco Sapori 10, off the Via Laurentina south-east of the Laurentina metro terminus. The suburban zone is Fonte Ostiense.
The main entrance is on the Via Nicola Lisi.
The patron saint, St Maurus, was allegedly a monastic disciple of St Benedict at Subiaco. His being described as an abbot is reliant on a mediaeval French story, which is a demonstrable forgery. Apparently for this reason, he has been deleted from the Roman martyrology altogether -and is the only saint with a church dedication in Rome to suffer this fate.
According to the martyrology, the "real" St Maurus was the founder of Glanfeuil Abbey in the 6th or 7th century.
The locality is known as Laurentino 38, and is a vast planned public housing estate which was put up in the Seventies. To put it mildly, the planners got it badly wrong -this became one of the worst modern slums in the Roman suburbs, overwhelmed by squatters, druggies and different varieties of itinerant.
The parish was set up in 1980. Unfortunately, the nascent community was immediately targeted by anti-Christian hostility deriving, in part, from the local popularity of various versions of dinosaur socialism, anarchism or communism. The parish community has been trying to overcome this through social action.
However, an arson attack in 1984 burned down the temporary church -most of the social facilities of the suburb were either never finished, or were similarly vandalised in the same period.
This was probably a blessing, for it spurred the provision of a permanent church. This was a collaboration by Anna Claudia Cenciarini and Ferdinando Sciamanna, and was completed in 1990.
The new church is part of a more extensive sports and social complex.
Some effort has since been made by the city to rescue the suburb from its nadir, and the place has been improving over the last two decades.
The church proper has a plan based on a square with four quarter-circles cut out of its corners, leaving the form of a cross. Within the four arcs, around the centre of the square, is drawn a large circle which does not quite touch the arcs. This delineates the unusual dome of the church.
At the back of the church, and symmetrical about a continuation of its major axis, is a large rectangular single-storey ancillary block with a large semi-circle cut out of its back. There is a short corridor link between this edifice and the back of the church.
Attached to the right hand arm of the church is a small round chapel, which houses the Blessed Sacrament.
The church is low, not much higher than the single-storey annexe just mentioned. It has a reinforced concrete frame, with bright red brick infill. The brickwork occupies the incurved walls in between the cross arms, and the Blessed Sacrament chapel. These walls have limestone plinths, and thin blind pilasters in the brickwork. The ends of the walls, at the corners, are embellished with limestone insets in a long-and-short pattern.
The tops of the curved walls have window strips below the eaves, indicating that the roof is structurally separate. The ends of the side cross arms are also in glass.
The roof is interesting. Away from the central circle it is flat, with a concrete parapet running all the way round. The circle in the plan is occupied by a second ring-shaped parapet, within which the roof is divided into four equal sectors by the major and minor axes. The quadrants to the sides are flat, but the near and far ones are raised at an angle and meet at a point. The gaps under these are filled by window strips.
The Blessed Sacrament chapel has its own roof with a parapet, and a central circular skylight.
The church stands away from the street, and is surrounded by mature trees and bushes. Unfortunately, a scruffy car park is in between the actual road and the gate. The edifice's civic profile is actually very low.
The church gate leads into a semi-circular paved area, from which a short staircase takes you to under a massive horizontal concrete canopy, at the same height as the church roof. This is supported on two concrete columns set a little back from the front, and its fascia is an incurved arc. This canopy is structurally distinct from the church, and joins onto the main building via a short extension a third of the width of the near cross-arm behind.
The red brick curved walls and clear glass screens at the ends of the side arms are features of the interior, too. The interiors of the brick walls have the same pilaster decoration as the exteriors.
The window strips at the tops of the walls and in the roof are clear glass also. The roof itself is in white, in thin triangular sectors within the circular zone. This area is bounded by a concrete ring-beam supported by four concrete columns, and the roofline window strips demonstrate that the roof as a whole is not structurally part of the church's walling.
The left hand side glass screen wall flanks a large traditional painted wooden crucifix. The right hand one flanks the entrance to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. This chapel is circular, with a windowless red brick wall also decorated with pilasters. The tabernacle has a chased silver door, with decoration of bull's eyes within lozenges. The skylight is within a double stepped recessed frame echoing the bull's eyes, and its glass features the Dove of the Holy Spirit.
The baptismal font stands in front of the sanctuary. It is a hexagonal marble block, with a cross-shaped recess to hold the water.
The sanctuary occupies the entire far cross arm. The back wall is taken up by the seating of the liturgical ministers, in marble with Cosmatesque-style decoration in inverted U-shaped strips. The back wall is occupied by a large depiction of The Coronation of Our Lady in Heaven, in traditional Byzantine style and with lots of saints and angels in attendance. The former are helpfully labelled -St Maurus is to the right.
According to the parish website, Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 8:30, 18:00;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:30, 18:00.
The parish has a subsidiary Mass centre at Santi Sisto e Domenico a Colle Parnaso.