San Tommaso d’Aquino a Tor Vergata is a 21st century university church at Via Salamanca in the new campus of the University of Rome-Tor Vergata at Tor Vergata, in the Torrenova zone. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here and here.
The dedication is to St Thomas Aquinas.
This is a subsidiary church of the parish of Santa Margherita-Maria Alacoque in Tor Vergata , but has its own priest. It has the pastoral responsibility for the students and staff on the campus.
It is already being referred to as a "chapel", but is a church.
This church is, in effect, the grand-daughter of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza in the rione Sant'Eustachio. This was erected in the 17th century as part of the first premises of the Sapienza University of Rome, but was superseded in 1935 by the Chiesa della Sapienza when the university moved to the Città Universitaria in the Tiburtino district.
Massive expansion of the university in the later 20th century led it to spread to several other sites. However, its administration became unwieldy and it was decided to split the insitution into two in 1982. The original Sapienza, nicknamed Uni Roma 1, remains based in Tiburtino but the new Uni Roma 2 (Università di Roma Tor Vergata) had a new campus built for it on a green-field site to the east of the built-up area.
However, in 2007 a vast new complex called the "City of Sport" was begun to the east of the church. This entailed the ripping up of the new road, and the provision of a driveway for the church which leads off the Via Cracovia. This is the parallel road to the south.
The overall layout of the church and ancillary edifices is based on two rectangles, the smaller (which is the church itself) superimposed on the larger and rotated by 30 degrees.
The larger rectangle is oriented southeast to northwest, whereas the axis of the smaller points to the altar just west of north. The entrance to the church is near the south corner of the larger rectangle, where an innovative pair of intersecting cylindrical structures leads into a roofed atrium giving access to the church itself.
The ancillary areas are as follows. There is a triangular block occupying the right hand side of the church and forming the east corner of the larger rectangle, an irregularly shaped block attached to the left hand side of the church (its plan resembles the side of a shoe) and a square tower campanile at the far left hand side of the church (this intrudes into the rectangle of the church plan). The last two face on to a courtyard. On the south-west side of this courtyard is a square edifice, and finally a large rectangular block containing lecture halls occupies the entire short side of the large rectangle to the west.
The fabric is in travertine limestone ashlar, with many smooth wall surfaces broken by relatively few windows that there are in the walls of the ancillary structures are small and rectangular. The roofs are all flat, so the church edifice looks like a large box in limestone with a row of three large round windows below the roofline on either side.
The main entrance to the church in the plan is at the corner of the large rectangle, on the major axis of the church. It consists of two cylindrical forms conjoined. The outer one, set to the right, is the porch. It is deliberately reminiscent of a circular temple, with two columns (without capitals) supporting an undecorated and undifferentiated arch-shaped entablature. On this is a hemispherical dome in a black composition. On the entablature is a dedication inscription: Divo Thomae Aquinati.
The inner cylinder, positioned just to the left of the outer, is the entrance lobby leading into the narthex. It has a blank wall with a single rectangular window, and a conical roof (rather like a tower of a French château).
To the left of the entrance the wall is cut away to form three enormous transverse steps, and on the bottom two of these are two large statues of angels.
There is a stately campanile on the corner of the church to the left of the altar, a genuine church tower on a square plan. Below the parapet of this is a row of four small rectangular winodows on each side, then below this another identical set of rows marking out a cube of the tower’s top portion, and then nearest the ground another set of sixteen windows which are taller, forming slits.
The church’s interior has a nave and aisles, with round white concrete columns without capitals and a gallery above the left hand aisle continuing behind the altar.
The ceiling is white, the walls either white or a pale brownish yellow, the floor is a light golden brown and the balconies of the gallery in between the pillars are topped with an edging in bright malachite green.
The wall behind the gallery above the altar is in duck-egg blue. The architect wished to be inspired by the polychrome interiors of historical Roman churches, rather than the monochrome interiors of many of the modern ones.
How to get thereEdit
The church is on bus routes 507 and 509, from the Anagni terminus of the Metro Linea A.