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Sant'Ugo Vescovo

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Sant'Ugo Vescovo is a late 20th century parish and titular church at Viale Lina Cavalieri 3 in the Castel Giubileo suburban zone, east of the Via Salaria and north-west of Tufello. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here.

The dedication is to St Hugh of Grenoble.

History Edit

The parish was set up in 1985, and the church was completed in 1991. The architect was Giuseppe Spina.

It was made titular in 1994, and the present cardinal priest is Emmanuel Wamala.


Location Edit

The church is a structurally integral part of a much larger social facilities complex, which in turn is part of a rigidly planned apartment-block suburb. Look at Google Earth in order to see the geometry of the street layout, and how the blocks are carefully placed.

Here, the dreams of Le Corbusier do seem to work somewhat as the trees are healthy, the streets are fairly clean and graffiti is mostly absent. However, it is often conveniently forgotten that Le Corbusier was an elitist prescribing for "working people" (proletariato) without facing the reality as to how genuinely poor people want to live.

Layout and fabric Edit

This edifice is "main-drag" late Modernist without concessions to post-modernism, but (on the other hand) it is not dominated by the standard bone-headed Brutalism of the early 1970's. There are some engaging elements to its design.

The church has a square plan, with the major axis along a diagonal. There is a monumental entrance porch occupying the length of the left hand near side, described below. The near and far right hand sides are occupied by ancillary premises belonging to the social complex.

The fabric is entirely in reinforced concrete, without facing and with the shuttering marks left. Basically, the structure looks like a low box with a flat roof. However, the roof is structurally separate from the side wall elements and does not immediately relate to them in the design. It is completely flat (apart from a strip skylight along the major axis), and has a low parapet.

Campanile Edit

To the left, when facing the frontage, is a separate tower campanile in reinforced concrete with the shuttering marks showing. It is formed of two separate tall and thin slabs facing each other, with rounded corners. Each tower-slab has been poured in sections, seven in all, but the top section and three-quarters of the one below it are split by a narrow slit. At the summit the two slabs are closed by a concrete box with a groove on each face, two of these grooves being continuations of the slits just mentioned.

The actual bell-chamber is formed by inserting a concrete platform at the join between the sixth and seventh sections.

Façade Edit

The church is well above the level of the street of the piazza on which it stands. Unfortunately, the piazza is just a tarmac car-park and nothing else.

The monumental entrance fronts a patio, above a concrete revetment wall which has an enormous central bulge in the form of a segment of a vertical cylinder, rather like a podium (one could imagine Mussolini giving a speech here). This design feature of a segment of a cylinder is used elsewhere.

The access arrangements comprise a long ramp running off to the right of this curved wall, and then turning back on itself, with the alternative choice of a parallel staircase. These structures also have concrete revetting walls.

The free-standing monumental entrance pylon is slightly wider on each side than the church behind. It consists of a flat roof supported by slab piers occupying the full width at either end, and also by four thin reinforced concrete columns within. The roof is slightly higher than that of the church behind, and is connected to it by a quarter-cylindrical skylight strip.

The underside of the roof has very deep square coffers, matched by the deep eaves. In the centre of the eaves is a segmental cut-out which is continued through the coffering to the skylight strip as a cylindrical indent.

To the left within the pylon is the ferial chapel, with a blank concrete wall facing outwards and half the height of the pylon roof. To the right is the entrance foyer, a cuboidal glass and concrete structure ditto.


Layout and fabric Edit

The interior has its major axis running along one diagonal of the square in the plan, from the right hand side of the pylon. That is, the entrance pylon fronts the left hand near wall of the church and is not parallel to the major axis. This wall is entirely in clear glass panels.

Ancillary structures abut the near and far right hand walls, providing sacristy and parish accommodation.

The underside of the main roof matches that of the pylon and is coffered in deep squares separated by concrete vanes, but the squares are aligned along the diagonal of the major axis and not the sides of the main square of the roof. A load-bearing beam runs across from the two side corners, but the two adjacent lines of coffers along the major axis perpendicular to it open into a skylight strip in the roof.

The sanctuary shelters under the far corner of the roof. It is apsidal, in the form of a segment of a cylinder. The left hand half of the curve is in clear glass, but the right hand half is a solid wall bearing a mosaic. The free-standing altar is on a circular raised platform fitted into the arc of this apse, with three steps. There is a horizontal concrete roof to this apse, and the apse is set into a glass-panelled wall perpendicular to the major axis.

To the left of the sanctuary apse is a tiny subsidiary apse which is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and to the right is the church's shrine to Our Lady which is not apsidal. Further to the left is the baptistery, with a square stone font and a stained glass window in blue (most of the church's glass is clear).

The altar is lit by a large round skylight, which is at the end of the skylight strip running along the major axis. To its left in the roof is a smaller round skylight, which lights the Blessed Sacrament chapel. Both of these skylights are covered by a single translucent pane of glass in a low roof turret, so as to give ambient natural light without sun-glare. The roof of the apse has a large semi-circular skylight as well.

Mosaics Edit

The church has been provided with mosaics by the Centro Aletti, and executed by the Vatican workshops in 2000.

The main mosaic is on the right hand side of the curved apse wall. It features The Risen Christ to the left, and scenes depicting The Marriage of Cana, The Samaritan Woman at the Well and St Peter Walking on the Water to the right. The heraldry is of Pope St John Paul II.

To the right of this, the shrine of Our Lady has a non-figurative mosaic surrounding a modern icon of Our Lady of Good Counsel (Madre del Buon Consiglio). To the right is a venerating angel, and round the corner are SS Peter and Paul with their instruments of martyrdom -a cross and sword respectively.

To the left of the apse, the tiny apse of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel has a mosaic of The Cross. To the left of this is another venerating angel. The left hand wall of the baptistery has St John the Baptist, and to the left of this is the figure of St Hugh, who was the bishop of Grenoble and who helped St Bruno found the Carthusian order in 1084. He is actually depicted as a Carthusian monk, which he wanted to be but never was owing to the pressure of his responsibilities as bishop.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated:

Weekdays 9:00, 19:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 19:00.

The Solemnity of St Hugh should be celebrated on 1 April, but since this date is often supplanted by Holy Week and Easter it might be celebrated on the first free day after the Easter Octave. This is liable to be the Monday of the second week of Easter.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

Beweb web-page

Article on mosaics in Italian

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