San Ponziano is a later 20th century parish and titular church with a postal address at Via Nicola Festa 50 in the quarter of Monte Sacro Alto, north of the Via Nomentana. The main entrance is off Via Giovanni Papini. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here.
The dedication is to Pope St Pontian.
The parish was established in 1963, and the church begun in 1970. The architect was Giuseppe Russo Rocca. It was completed in 1974.
The church was made titular as a diaconate in 2007. The present cardinal deacon is Santos Abril y Castelló.
The church has a simple rectangular plan of seven bays, and a fabric in reinforced concrete. The plan is described as basilical because the layout involves three longitudinal strips, the central zone being slightly wider than the two to the side. However, the interior arrangements do not follow a traditional basilical pattern. A parochial and social centre is attached to the left hand side, and there is a crypt underneath.
The church has no visible campanile.
The structure has a reinforced concrete frame of unusual shape. The lines of the side walls each have eight vertical concrete piers, and the ones at the front corners are connected by a long beam halfway up with solid concrete infill below it. The beam supports five vertical piers in each side zone of the frontage, which in turn support an upward sloping beam from the top of the corner pier, forming the end of the single-pitched side zone roof.
The back wall, behind the altar, is treated the same. Then, two very long concrete beams run longitudinally between the corner piers to form the lower roofline of the side zones, and another two run from the top of the fifth frontage pier to its companion in the back wall. Six further upwardly sloping beams in each side zone join the pair of longitudinal beams at the side wall piers.
So far, the concrete frame is fairly straightforward. However, the central zone has a much more steeply pitched roof section on each side, with a narrow flat top at the summit. Each pitch of this part of the roof is supported by eight further upwardly sloping beams at a much steeper angle, and each pair of these beams is connected at the top by a short horizontal beam.
Finally, a pair of horizontal concrete beams join the eight piers in each side wall fairly low down to support the roof of the crypt and the main floor of the church.
The back wall is blank, with its framework hidden by infill. The right hand side wall is easily inspected from the Via Giovanni Papini. There, you can see that each bay is filled by a rectangular concrete panel over a vent for the crypt, with the church floor support beam in between. Each panel is pierced at its top by a pair of windows just below the roofline, trapezoidal in shape.
The roof surfaces in between the projecting beams is in concrete panelling.
The planners of this suburb have done well in not facing the church onto a piazza used for parking cars, as is all too usual in Roman suburbs, but onto an attractive little park called the Parco di San Ponziano. A cobbled courtyard is entered from the Via Giovanni Papini, onto which the church faces.
Because of the crypt, the actual church entrance is on a patio reached by a long flight of steps (there is a wheelchair ramp to the left, a bit steep).
Because of the odd shape of the transverse section of the edifice, the façade is unmistakeable. It is in the form of an irregular pentagon with vertical sides, on the upper middle of which is placed a truncated triangle. A visible horizontal support beam in dark grey concrete runs across the frontage from halfway up the vertical sides, an fitted underneath this in the centre is the single trapezoidal entrance portal. This has a flat floating canopy in exactly the same shape, as if a section of the frontage had been cut out and rotated out and up.
The wall below this beam on either side of the entrance is blank, in light grey (which used to be white). Above, a pair of rectangular panels occupy the far ends but in between these are twenty-seven narrower vertical blank rectangular panels. The middle one is twice the width of the others, and bears a large, thin metal cross in red. The tops of the panels form a stepped effect against the sloping roofline beams, with the infill in dark grey.
On the horizontal central beam is a row of fourteen windows shaped like pentagons with vertical sides -an echo of a design element of the frontage just described.
The interior is described as basilical, but is actually one space. This is because there are no arcades or piers supporting the two longitudinal beams running the length of the church where the pitches of the roof change their angles.
The interior is lit by the windows at the tops of the side walls and by those in the façade, and also by skylight strips in the acute angle of the roof along the major axis. The beams are in light grey, and the panelling in between is in white. The terracotta Stations of the Cross are by Agatina Perrotta.
The sanctuary is raised on a platform with four steps in red marble.
The blank wall above the altar is entirely taken up by an enormous figurative so-called graffito of the Resurrection of Christ by Fra Ugolino da Belluno, which he executed in 1994. This is not a fresco or a mosaic, because the artist (a Capuchin friar) used various coloured plastics and resins which set after application. Christ is shown with Our Lady and St Pontian.
The church is open to visitors, according to the Diocese:
7:00 to 12:00, 16:30 to 19:15 (before the evening Mass).
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 7:00, 8:30, 18:00, 19:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:30, 18:00, 19:30.
The Divine Office is celebrated on Sundays and Solemnities, as Lauds at 8:00 and Vespers at 19:00.
There is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Fridays, 9:00 to 10:00 and 17:00 to 19:30 (21:00 on First Fridays).