Sant’Andrea Apostolo in Castel di Decima is a 18th century subsidiary church in the castle at Via Clarice Tartufari 81, which is named Castel di Decima from being on the tenth milestone from Rome. The castle, and settlement of the same name, is on the Via Pontina. The church is dependent on the parish of Gesù Divin Salvatore.
The dedication is to St Andrew the Apostle.
The earliest reference to the castle dates to 1081, when the Castrum Pontis Decimi was part of the property portfolio of the abbey of San Paolo fuori le Mura. The freehold subsequently passed in turn to the monasteries of Sant'Alessio all'Aventino and San Saba, although the Frangepani family were castellans.
Foundation of church Edit
By this time, the castle would have lost its military significance and become a casale or fortified farm-house with a private chapel. The cardinal renovated the property, and fitted out a church for the inhabitants of the estate. This was made parochial in 1777, with a dedication to SS Martino e Antonio Abbate (Martin of Tours and Anthony of Egypt), and was consecrated in 1778.
The cardinal also bought the neighbouring property of Casale di Perna. This was provided with its own chapel, which is still standing although apparently deconsecrated. See Cappella del Casale di Perna.
The dedication of the church was apparently later changed to Sant’Elvira (St Elvira is a very obscure martyr, not in the martyrologies), but if so the name of the parish did not change.
Originally the church did not belong to the diocese of Rome, but was part of the diocese of Ostia until 1962 when Rome annexed most of the territory of that diocese.
Diocesan clergy of Ostia were in charge until 1924, when the castle became a convent of the Augustinian friars. The Society of St Paul took over in 1950, but gave up in 1958 in favour of the Capuchins.
In the late 20th century, suburban development had occurred in the Spinaceto area in the north of the parish, and it was decided to build a new parish church in a more convenient location. The Capuchins gave up the parish in 1982 in favour of the Salvatiorians, and the new church of Gesù Divin Salvatore was consecrated in 1995. The church's dedication was in their honour, but the parish was re-named in the same year as Santi Martino e Antonio Abate a Castel di Decima.
The old castle convent was converted into a hotel and conference centre, which it still is. The firm responsible is Giolitti Catering (that is its Italian name).
However, because the new parish church is a long way from the little village, the church here was kept open and was renovated. It was re-consecrated with its present dedication in 1988, and remains dependent on the parish of Gesù Divin Salvatore.
Layout and fabricEdit
The core of the castle is a square block comprising four wings round a small central courtyard. This is in the south-east corner of a much larger courtyard containing a fountain, in the shape of an irregular hexagon with a long straight side to the south where the entrance is.
The church is a small rectangular building squeezed into an acute angle of the hexagon at the western end of the hexagon. It has a small bellcote or campanile perched on the end of the wing adjacent to it on the right.
The church has a loggia, with four naked brick pillars supporting a single-pitched and tiled roof. The central portal is the entrance, while the two side portals have been blocked by railings set on low brick walls.
Above the loggia, the frontage of the nave has a round-headed window with the curved lintel slightly narrower than the main rectangular portion. A pair of blind pilasters at the corners support an entablature and triangular pediment, with posts resembling capitals in the entablature over the pilasters. A dedicatory inscription has been painted on the pediment tympanum and entablature frieze: S. Andreae Apostolo, SS Antonio et Elvirae dicat[um].
The actual church has three entrance doors close together, the side ones being slightly narrower.
The interior is very small, and is in a simple Baroque style. The nave has three bays, marked off by ribbed pilasters in very shallow relief with Ionic capitals which are painted, not sculpted. These support side wall entablatures with swags painted on the frieze, and these in turn support the flat wooden coffered ceiling. The three large central panels feature the coat-of-arms of the Torriggiani family, flanked by large stars.
To the right is the organ, in a gallery cantilevered out on scroll brackets. To the left is a wall aedicule containing a statue of St Anthony of Padua, and a modern polychrome plaque featuring St Andrew with his cross. The window over the entrance has stained glass featuring a cross.
The sanctuary is an apse, with a conch. Its triumphal arch has a molded archivolt on ribbed Doric pilasters, which intrudes into the interior entablature and almost reaches the ceiling.
The very large round-headed altarpiece shows the Madonna and Child being venerated by two saints (Martin and Anthony?), and looks 18th century. It intrudes into the conch, and is flanked by a pair of modern stained glass windows which feature St Joseph and St Anthony of Padua.
Bus number 704 from Laurentina metro station terminates in the village.
Mass is celebrated on Sunday at 10:00.
The church is available for weddings, and is a very convenient venue if you don't have many guests. You don't have to worry about parking, and the reception is on site. The food is good.