San Michele Arcangelo a Pietralata is a mid 20th century parish and titular church at Largo Geltrude Comensoli 6, in the Monti Tiburtini suburb north of the Via Tiburtina in the Pietralata quarter. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.
The dedication is to Michael the Archangel.
The parish was erected in 1938, but completion of the church was delayed by the Second World War. It was designed by Tullio Rossi, and consecrated in 1948.
In 2003, a permanent photographic "installation" entitled Urbs, Civitas, Sanctitas was provided in the Chapel of St Michael by Carlo Gallerati.
Layout and fabric Edit
This is not a large church. A single nave ends in a semi-circular apse of the same height, and is flanked by a pair of semitransepts. The latter join onto a pair of ancillary blocks aligned parallel to the church.
The fabric is in red brick. The nave side walls have two vertical rectangular windows on each side, and off the bottom left hand side is a little baptistery chapel with a tiny apse. The main roof is double-pitched and tiled, and joins onto the apse roof which is pitched in five sectors. The roof overhangs the walls, and you can see the ends of the support timbers below the roofline.
The right hand semitransept roof is also double-pitched, but the left hand one is incorporated into a flat-roofed structure. In the corner between this and the left hand ancillary block is the very odd campanile, L-shaped in plan with two large round-headed openings, one above the other, in each wall.
The entrance is approached by a flight of nine steps ending in a patio, so the church must be on a crypt.
The gabled façade is in blank orange-red brickwork, set within a frame of dark grey concrete. The bricks are of varying hues, which gives an attractive appearance to an otherwise very plain design. The single entrance is sent into an arch is grey, with block imposts and keystone, above which a relief carving of the coat-of-arms of Pope Pius XII is set into the brickwork.
A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes is perched, rather precariously, on the tip of the gable.
The plain interior is mostly in creamy white, with a tan-coloured dado for the side walls. The rectangular windows in the nave side walls have stained glass, two scenes to each window.
The most impressive thing here is the open truss roof, in stained wood with tie beams and battens, which covers both nave and apse.
Urbs, Civitas, Sanctitas Edit
The left hand semitransept is sequestered by a screen wall and door, and leads to the sacristies. The right hand one leads to the separate chapel of St Michael, which is a white-painted tunnel-vaulted space. This is only worth noticing for the two photographic montages installed in 2003 by Carlo Gallerati, one entitled Giuco n. 5 per la Cupola di San Pietro (1998-2003) and the other, Giuco n. 5 per Torre di Città Sant'Angelo. The two together have the title Urbs, Civitas, Sanctitas.
The sanctuary occupies the apse, the curved wall of which looks as if it is revetted in small limestone slabs. The altar has been brought forward, as happened in most Roman parish churches in the later 20th century, and replaced with bench seating for the ministers fitted into the curve.
The original altarpiece is still in place, and is a fair copy of the famous representation by Guido Reni of St Michael Conquering Satan which is located at Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. This is flanked by a pair of fresco panels, the left hand one showing St Michael and the Angels Expel the Demons from Heaven and the right hand one, The Vision of St Michael at Monte Gargano.
The church is open 7:30 to 12:00, 16:30 to 20:00 daily.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 8:30, 18:30 (not Thursdays);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 10:00, 11:30, 18:30.