San Michele Arcangelo a Giardini di Corcolle is a very late 20th century parish church in Via Monteprandone 67 in the suburb of Giardini di Corcolle, itself in the zone of San Vittorino. This is just south-west of the junction between the Strada dei Parchi and the Autostrada del Sole. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.
The dedication is to St Michael the Archangel.
This church is in the municipality of Rome, but belongs to the diocese of Tivoli.
First chapel Edit
The locality was open countryside until the later 20th century, and was part of the large and old parochial territory of San Vittorino, Vescovo e Martire. The first fairly local place of worship was the parish chapel of San Primitivo, built as part of agricultural improvements after 1890 which involved the draining of a famous and historic lake, the Lacus Gabinus.
The first chapel of San Michele was opened in 1950. It was part of a farmstead at Via Polense km 18,5, the actual address being Via Lunano 23. The premises are now known as Azienda Agricola Ricci Battistina, but part is now a restaurant called La Contrada which has its own address at Via Polense 471.
The two ranges containing the restaurant are next to the road, one at an angle to it and the adjacent one parallel. The chapel used to occupy part of the latter, and if you look at the left hand end of its near roofline you will see a little brick bell-cote or campanile with a tall round-headed aperture for the bell and a slightly Baroque omega-curved top. The metal cross finial is still in place, but the bell has obviously gone.
Foundation of parish Edit
The suburb grew up as an illegal subdivision of agricultural land in the Sixties -there was a lot of this sort of thing in the outer Roman suburbs then, and some of the plot-lands thus created locally are still very rough and (in the bad sense) mysterious.
Giardini di Corcolle, however, obtained the optional extras such as paved roads, sewerage, a bus service and shops. In response, the Diocese of Tivoli set up a parish in 1976 and shut down the farm chapel.
Oddly, the older local chapel of San Primitivo was left with the Roman parish of Santa Maria di Loreto a Castelverde even though it is in the diocesan territory of Tivoli. The diocesan boundary runs along the street outside the church of Santa Maria di Loreto, and this seems to be an administrative and pastoral convenience.
After a couple of moves, the temporary parish church settled down at Via Sant'Elpidio in Mare 53 which comprises shop premises in the ground floor of an apartment block.
New church Edit
The parish was only registered with the secular authorities as a legal entity in 1986 -this status is required in Italian law if property is to be held. So, it was only then that negotiations could begin to build a permanent church. This was designed by Giulio Rossetti, begun in 1990 and finally completed in 1997. The construction firm was the local one of Cos.Edil.
The unusual plan begins with a square with the major axis on a diagonal, and the main entrance in the near corner. Into this square is inserted a longitudinal rectangle, with the longer sides the same length as the square. The shorter sides are slightly less than half the length of a side of the square, and the rectangle protrudes from the back of the square by about a third of the same length. Thus the back angle of the square is suppressed.
The side angles of the square each have a pair of screen walls enclosing the angle. The entrance angle has a pair of small square external chapels placed symmetrically either side.
There is a tower campanile just to the right of the far end of the church. To the left here is the ancillary range, a single rectangular block perpendicular to the church's major axis. This abuts the church with its near right hand corner, and in front of this a short longitudinal connecting range leads to the main body of the church (the diagonal square).
The site slopes down from front to back, and this has been utilised to give the church a crypt. This is at ground level round the back, where you can see its windows.
The fabric is in reinforced concrete, in white. Rough-cut white limestone slabs are used to clad much of the exterior.
The diagonal side walls are in blank white, and rise to form a high parapet enclosing the flat main roof of the diagonal square. The longitudinal rectangular zone, however, has its own impressive roofing arrangements in four zones. The back part is a square as high again as the main body of the church (excluding its parapet), and the other three zones are transverse rectangles in front of this forming a gigantic staircase. These four roofs have parapets, but lower than the main one.
The two side chapels flanking the entrance are clad in limestone. They have their own little flat roofs with parapets, and each has a pair of thin vertical rectangular windows in the outer wall. These are crowned by a large slightly projecting white block (not in stone) which rises slightly higher than the parapet.
The screen walls clasping the side angles are also in limestone.
The church's fenestration is not extensive. There is a large rectangular window behind each side side chapel, and a wider one before each side angle. The back of the longitudinal rectangular structure, amounting to the church's apse, is in blank white and has two huge projecting vertical slab-vanes which reach the roofline but not the ground. These clasp a large window in four separate vertical sections, the lower three vertical and stepping backwards with height but the top one sloping forwards.
The four vertical risers of the roof "staircase" each has a fenestration consisting of two long horizontal rectangular windows flanking a little square one.
The corridor attached to the left of the apse has a blank white wall, and has a semi-cylindrical protrusion over it.
The detached tower campanile consisting of two parallel concrete vertical strips standing on a high plinth, the bottom part of which is clad with limestone. These strips are connected with thin metal rungs like a ladder, and have diagonal tops sloping backwards. On top is an exposed bell-enclosure consisting merely of three concrete beams forming the sides of a rectangle.
The church occupies a generous site on the edge of the suburb, but is surrounded by some scruffy areas including a casual and very rough car park. It is situated away from the street, and relies on its main profile for its civic identity rather than on its entrance façade.
The church has its own gated car park, which leads to a semi-circular entrance piazza. The paving of this includes a white star within a circle.
The actual entrance is recessed within the near corner of the church, the recess being flanked by the two side chapels and having a flat ceiling half as high as the main roof above. The entrance frontage within is two sides of a cube clad with limestone, each with a door. The cube is flanked by a pair of vertical rectangular windows.
Where the main walls of the church meet at a right angle, over the entrance recess, there is left a narrow slot. In the top of this is a cross finial.
The interior is in white, except for six light grey columns supporting the rather low main roof. Also, there is a limestone dado topped with a dark grey band.
The stepping up of the height of the central space to over the sanctuary is impressive. Also, this central void has its side walls stepping inwards in parallel -which is not the case for the exterior. The voids thus created allow for a choir gallery in the far left hand upper wall, with a projecting conductor's box. This is accessed by a spiral staircase with a solid balustrade.
There is a crucifix behind the altar, a statue of St Michael in the left hand chapel and one of Our Lady in the right hand one.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 18:00 (18:30 in summer);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:30, 18:00 (18:30 in summer).
(Early 2017: The diocesan website has malware. Don't go there.)