Santa Barbara alle Capannelle is a mid 20th century parish church with a postal address at Via Settingiano 5 in the Appio Claudio district. This is in a suburb named Villaggio di Santa Barbara after the church, which is near the Capannelle train station.
The address is for the parish offices up a side street. The main entrance is on the Largo Santa Barbara.
The dedication is to St Barbara.
A training school for firemen, the Scuola dei Vigili del Fuoco, was being established on the site before the Second World War by the Fascist government. Back then this was entirely open countryside, with the train station just to the east and the old settlement of Capannelle just beyond that. The latter had a chapel which served the rural population, Sant’Antonio da Padova alle Capannelle.
After the war, the project for the college was continued and a small suburb built to house the staff and students. This was provided with a church, the foundation stone of which was laid in 1952 by Cardinal Clemente Micara. The architect was Luigi Gherardelli, who was attached to the fire-fighting department at Florence.
The dedication of St Barbara was chosen since she is the patron saint of firefighters. There is a joke here -in her legend, her evil father is struck by lightning and is burned up.
The parish was established at the end of the year of completion, 1953. Unfortunately, the view was taken that the new church made the old chapel redundant, and it was deconsecrated. This caused serious offence to the locals in the old settlement (the other side of the railway), and a long time later they had a new one built on a separate site. This was consecrated in 1991.
In 2002 the sanctuary was re-ordered, and the statue of St Barbara that was once the altarpiece was put in the narthex.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church is on a rectangular plan, with a single nave of four bays without aisles and a sanctuary having a tiny rectangular apse. There is a tower campanile at the top left hand corner. The side walls have four round-headed windows each. Unusually for a building of this date, the fabric seems to be in tufa cobbles which give a textured surface to the exterior walls. Either that, or the tufa is facing brick.
The roof is pitched and tiled, and hence the entrance façade has a gable.
The tower campanile is attached to the far left hand side. The blank-walled square tower has a bell-chamber with four tall rectangular sound-holes on each face separated by thin blind piers. These apertures are provided with transennae, or solid stone balcony slabs. There is a low tiled pyramidal cap.
The church faces over a spacious piazza, but unfortunately this is one of the suburbs where the inhabitants (or those having businesses nearby) consider it more important to have car parking than a civic space.
The actual church frontage is completely blank, lacking windows or any decoration. The gable has an overhanging cornice with simple molding.
There is a deep open narthex or entrance loggia of three bays, accessed by three identical arches supporting a single-pitched tiled roof occupying the width of the façade, with a side arch at each end. The arcade has square narthex piers with vaguely Doric capital, and these piers in a light grey. The narthex has a cross-vault, and this and the far wall are in white with the latter having a dark grey dado. There is a goo-quality marble statue of St Barbara to the right of the entrance in the narthex, which used to be the altarpiece of the high altar.
The simple interior has an open roof, with wooden trusses.
The windows have good modern stained glass in the eight side windows depicting famous women saints, namely SS Ursula, Lucy, Cecilia, Agnes, Agatha, Catherine of Siena, Maria Goretti and Joan of Arc. Under each window is a fresco depicting incidents in the life of the saint concerned.
The little round-headed apse now contains a painted wooden crucifix.
Over the apse is an attractive apse fresco of 1969 by Gianfranco Lucidi, depicting Christ surrounded by motifs deriving from recent local history. The area of the parish used to be more extensive when it was founded, so here you will see depictions of the ruined aqueduct of the Aqua Claudia, Ciampino Airport and Capannelle Racecourse which has been a horse-racing venue since 1881.
There are side altars dedicated to the Sacred Heart and St Rita, as well as a separate Blessed Sacrament chapel.
The church is open 7:30 to 19:30 daily.
Mass is celebrated:
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:30 (not summer), 18:30.
There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Thursdays, 16:00 to 18:15, except in summer.
Here, "summer" is 15 June to 15 September.
External chapels Edit
The parish has two directly administered external Mass centres: