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Sant'Alberto Magno

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Sant'Alberto Magno is a late 20th century parish church at Via delle Vigne Nuove 653 in the new suburban district of Vigne Nuove which is north of Tufello.

History Edit

The parish was erected in 1983. The foundation stone of the church was laid in 1988, and it was completed in 1991. The architect was Sandro Benedetti.

Exterior Edit

Layout Edit

The church's layout is not easy to describe, and a glance at the plan on the "Beweb" web page might be useful.

The church has an unusual plan, based on an irregular but symmetrical hexagon with a right angle at each side and a transverse side at the entrance and altar ends. This hexagon is made up of seven identical tessellated squares and two right-angled triangles (at entrance and altar) formed by bisecting a square along a diagonal. This right-angled triangle is a fundamental design unit.

The basic hexagonal plan has five extensions. Firstly, two triangles are attached symmetrically to the further halves of the far sides of the hexagon, so that their hypotenuses align with the side at the altar. This altar side has a smaller right-angled triangle attached by its hypotenuse, creating a little apse for the sanctuary. Finally, another triangle is attached to the far half of the near right hand side, its hypotenuse being a longitudinal outer wall.

The far left hand side wall is abutted by a diagonal sacristy block, which turns an angle to continue as a large stand-alone ancillary block running parallel to the major axis and forming one side of an entrance courtyard. This block contains a large meeting-hall or aula.

Fabric Edit

The main body of the church has low blank walls in oversized pinkish-yellow bricks mimicking ashlar stonework. The roof is flat, panelled in square metal tiles.

The support structure of the edifice is a lattice of horizontal reinforced concrete beams holding up the main roof just mentioned. These are supported by four clustered columns made of eight piers each. Two of these columns are located at the side angles of the central square in the geometric plan, and the other two at the acute corners of the altar end triangle. Four beams connect these columns, two longitudinally and two transversely (breaking into the diagonal lattice of the other beams), and these hold up the church's dome (see below).

The two right-angled triangles fitting into the side corners of the church's plan are double the height of the main structure and each has two large rectangular windows in its hypotenuse wall. These are lanterns for the interior, which is rather short of natural light.

Dome Edit

Above the main roof, a blank-walled central cube rises to twice the height and this has its own flat roof. This cube has chamfered corners, and each chamfer is occupied by a tower on a square plan slightly higher than the roof. The free corners of each tower have two attached pilasters, flanked by vertical dentillations laid into the brickwork. The cap of each tower is in metal, with four gables. The outward face of each tower has a large vertical rectangular stained glass window, over which is a round window fitting into the gable.

On the flat roof of the cube is a lantern, in the form of a smaller cube with incut corners. This also has a metal gabled cap, and in each side is a large window.

Campanile Edit

The campanile is a tall tower, attached to the back angle of the apse with its diagonal on the major axis. This tower is in the same style as those flanking the dome, but is taller and its pyramidal cap is much steeper. The bell-chamber has a large rectangular aperture on each face.

Atrium Edit

The church does not face onto the street -in fact, its main access is a scruffy driveway perpendicular to the major axis. This leads to a large rectangular courtyard or atrium in front of the church, which has two parallel covered walkways in grey concrete with their flat roofs supported by concrete columns having the shuttering marks showing. One walkway is immediately in front of the church (although not part of the structure), and the other is parallel on the opposite side of the courtyard. To the right, where the driveway ends up, is a concrete propylaeum or gateway in the same style with a dedicatory inscription on its outer-facing horizontal beam.

The courtyard is attractively paved in a dark red, with a large white eight-pointed star surrounded by white lines enclosing symmetrical trapezoids.

Façade Edit

The façade is occupied by a third triangular turret, having a right-angular plan and with the hypotenuse forming the frontage wall. This is set back slightly, leaving short diagonal wings on each side with the characteristic dentillation strips in the brickwork. There is a central round window above the large single entrance doorway, but otherwise the wall is blank.

Interior Edit

The round window in the façade just mentioned has stained glass, and lights a triangular void over the entrance inside.

The basic hexagonal layout of the church is mostly taken up by the pews for the congregation. These are in three sets; the central one faces the altar along the major axis, and the two side sets face it along a diagonal parallel to the far sides. In between these sets stand two free-standing clustered columns in raw reinforced concrete, each column being formed of eight support piers. Two other identical columns are engaged with the far wall either side of the altar. These columns support four massive girder beams in a square, and these in turn support the cubical dome. The corners of the cube have square chutes which are the interiors of the towers appended to the dome's exterior (see above), and the far wall of each of these has a large rectangular stained glass window with a round window above.

The support beams have an inscription which is a quotation in Italian from the Prologue of the Gospel of St John (Jn 1:14 -"The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us").

Away from the void of the dome, the rather low flat roof is supported by diagonal concrete beams. Apart from the beams, the wall surfaces are in white. Over the little triangular sanctuary apse is a large fresco by Fosco Bertani. A crucifix and a Resurrection are by Nicola Sebastio.

Access Edit

According to the Diocese, the church is open daily from 7:00 to 20:00.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated:

Weekdays 7:30 (not in August), 18:00 (19:00 July and August);

Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:00 (11:30 July, not in August), 12:00 (not in July and August), 19:00.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

Info.roma web-page

Beweb web-page

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