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San Sebastiano a Cesano

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San Sebastiano a Cesano is a late 20th century parish church at Via della Stazione di Cesano 402 in the district of Cesano, south of the old town on the road to the train station. The locality is called Cesano Scalo. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.

This church is in the municipality of Rome, but belongs to the diocese of Porto Santa Rufina.

The dedication is to St Sebastian of Rome.

History Edit

The parish of San Giovanni Battista a Cesano had two mediaeval churches towards the end of the 20th century, San Giovanni Battista and San Nicola di Bari a Cesano. Both of these are in the old town, and were in a poor state of repair. It was decided to get rid of San Nicola by giving it to the city as an ancient monument in 1992, to restore San Giovanni as the Mass centre for the old town and to build a new church in the messy suburb north of the train station where the majority of local people lived.

The result was San Sebastiano, which was completed in 1998. The architect was Federico Lambo.

The treatment of San Nicola proved unpopular, and this is again a functioning church as from 2007. However, San Sebastiano is the parish headquarters -although the parish's name remains San Giovanni Battista.

Exterior Edit

Layout and fabric Edit

The plan of the church is a short rectangle, almost square. To the right is a long ancillary block parallel to the major axis of the church, which has two diagonally placed subsidiary wings approaching the church and forming a trapezoidal courtyard next to its right hand side wall.

The church stands at some distance from the main road. The latter runs next to a so-called piazza comunale, which is a bleak space paved in grey blocks with a row of struggling saplings and two beds of shrubbery over to the right. Then follows the church car park, under tarmac. Finally comes an approach zone laid out as a small garden, which is more attractive. The effect of this layout on the church's civic presence is rather unfortunate.

Behind the church is a giardino pubblico, which has a long way to go before it merits its title.

The fabric has a reinforced concrete frame, with infill in roughly hewn grey tufo stone blocks laid in courses. The side walls are in blank stonework, except for three small windows with vertical stone bar mullions -the middle one has three slits, and the other two each have two. At the corners of the church the wall roofline ascends by three steps on each side, to form a sort of ziggurat finial.

The back of the church is odd. There is a shallow segmental reverse apse, behind which is a tall concrete cuboid on a square plan, set diagonally on the church's major axis. This is flanked by two concrete frames in the form of open rectangles on a pair of piers, arranged on diagonals pointing outwards. These seem to be the church's campanile, although the writer hasn't been round the back to look.

The roof is a segment of a cylinder, arranged longitudinally and with flat walkways all round. It is covered with a black composition, but is actually of steam-bent laminated pinewood.

Façade Edit

The church is fronted by a small garden area, with two little lawns flanking a shallowly stepped ramp in crazy paving. This leads to an entrance patio on two levels, separated by three steps. The lawns have a pair of weeping beech trees, and the parishioners are liable to provide pot plants to enliven the ambience.

The actual church façade is entirely in stone blocks, and is in three zones. The side ones are narrower, and are longitudinal. The central one has an angle of about sixty degrees, and so looks a little like the prow of a boat. A column in white occupies the tip of the angle, reaching almost to the horizontal roofline. This divides two entrance portals, large rectangular apertures leading into a trapezoidal lobby. Above, the column is flanked by two large vertical window strips beginning immediately above the portals, and which each have a further vertical rectangular appended above the portal to give the shape of an L.

The two side zones each have an incised window strip in the inner corner, reaching about halfway up. A very small vertical rectangular window is near the outer corner of the roofline. The roofline itself starts with three steps going down from the outer corner, and then rises vertically to a horizontal portion at the same level as that of the central zone.

Interior Edit

The laminated and varnished wooden barrel roof is impressive. It is supported by horizontal beams borne by white concrete columns, and has thin wooden truss-beams. The walls are mostly rendered in white.

The sanctuary arrangements are structurally complicated, and a bit fiddly. The rood ends in a large lunette in stone block courses, containing a window fitting into the curve at the top and having three steps down and up at the bottom. Below the lunette is a grey concrete beam having a horizontal angle, echoing the façade. Below this in turn is a shallow inverted apse -the wall is bowed, and is also in exposed stone blocks. The central zone of the curve is brought forward slightly and the blocks here are laid randomly and are of different sizes. The two side zones have the blocks laid in courses. A zone at the top, above a second angle-beam, is angled instead of curved and fits into the angle of both beams. This inverted apse composition is flanked by a pair of engaged square brick piers.

A pair of columns support the two angle-beams, and lower down each has a short beam joining it to the adjacent brick pier. A much larger column behind the altar supports the angle-tips of the main beams, and from it a pair of exposed horizontal beams with slightly wavy bottom edges run across to the back side walls of the church.

This larger central pillar has a bronze relief of The Apotheosis of St Sebastian.

The altar frontal is a very impressive piece, especially if it is modern and not 17th century. It is polychrome marble opus sectile work, including a background in green verde antico marble and a panel in alabaster. Curlicues surround a central elliptical medallion in lapis lazuli, bearing the sacred monogram IHS.

The tabernacle is in the far wall to the left in the sanctuary. Its circular bronze door has a relief of loaves and fishes, and is surrounded by a radial polychrome mosaic glory which includes red discs evoking drops of blood.

Liturgy Edit

Church Edit

Mass is celebrated:

Weekdays 8:00 (not Monday), 18:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 10:00, 11:30.

Subsidiary churches Edit

The parish has two subsidiary churches:

San Giovanni Battista a Cesano

San Nicola di Bari a Cesano

The church of San Martino della Scuola di Fanteria is close by, but is administered by the Ordinariato militare per l'Italia which has the spiritual responsibility for Italy's armed forces.

External links Edit

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

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