Santa Caterina da Siena a Via Populonia is a 21st century parish church at Via Populonia 44, which is in the Appio Latino quarter.
The dedication is to St Catherine of Siena.
The Diocese prefers the simple name Santa Caterina da Siena. However, this causes confusion with Santa Caterina da Siena a Via Giulia which is the more well-known church. So, the suffix a Via Populonia is being used in the media.
The parish was established in 1971, with the intention to build a permanent church straight away. Land was promised by the Marianists, whose Generalate is at Via Latina 22. Unfortunately the project was blocked after planning permission was refused, since the site was judged to be too archaeologically significant for work to go ahead.
As a result, the Hospitaller Sisters of Mercy (Suore Ospedaliere della Misericordia) let the parish have the use of their convent's nearby church at Via Latina 28 -Santa Maria Mater Misericordiae a Via Latina. However, this was only available for liturgical events. The parish's social and educational activities had to take place in a prefabricated temporary structure on Marianist land, and the separation of the two sites proved seriously inconvenient.
A compromise was worked out in the first decade of the 21st century, whereby the Diocese took over a derelict area in a nearby city block mostly occupied by a tall apartment building running continuously along almost the whole length of all four streets. The land made available had been intended by the planners to have been a small park, but the intention had failed badly.
The church was begun in 2010, and completed in 2013. The architects were Rosario and Ernesto Maria Giuffrè, father and son.
Layout and fabric Edit
The restricted nature of the site means that the complex, including the church and ancillary facilities, is tightly designed. It comprises a single block, on a basically rectangular plan but with the far left hand corner (viewing from the street) cut off. The fabric is in reinforced concrete, with much cladding in red brick, and the roofs are flat.
The right hand and far sides are occupied by a five-storey block painted in a pale lilac, in the form of an L. The middle two storeys are jettied out over the entrance, and supported by a pair of concrete piers. The frontage of this jetty presents itself to the street as a completely blank square.
The rest of the plan is taken up by a unit that is two storeys lower, with its external walls clad in red brick and with a fairly high parapet. On the roof of this is another patio or sundeck, accessed by a flight of stairs running from the near left hand side and also by internal staircases. Besides the external staircase is the campanile, a low square brick tower placed diagonally to the street frontage line and with an open metal bar bell-cage painted red on top.
The building as a whole stands back from the street, behind an elevated patio bounded by red-painted metal railings.
The main street frontage has been described as a pair of open books side by side, one large (to the right) and one small (to the left). The former has a window in the form of a thin cross, but the frontage is otherwise mostly blank brick.
The interior design is coolly minimalist, in a cream colour. Engaged concrete piers separate rectangular windows in clear glass. The roof looks as if it is in wooden planks and rafter, with an interesting section that curves down and looks as if it is the underside of a staircase.
The church seems rather short of artworks, but there is a statue of St Catherine on the wall to the left of the altar.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):
Weekdays 8:30 (not July, August), 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:30 (not July, August), 18:30.
External Mass centres Edit
The parish has two external Mass centres: