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Santa Giulia Billiart

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Santa Giulia Billiart is a later 20th century parish church at Viale Antonio Averulino Filarete 227 in the Tuscolano quarter, south of the Filarete metro station on the Via Casilina. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here (interior before latest refitting).

The patron saint, Julie Billiart, was the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a teaching sisterhood who have their Roman Provincialate (headquarters) in the parish.

History Edit

The parish was established in 1981. The church was begun in 1986, and was completed in 1991. The architect was Aldo Aloysi, assisted by Ernesto Vichi.

The interior was repainted and had a limited re-ordering in about 2010.

ExteriorEdit

Layout and fabric Edit

This is a low building in an uncompromising Modernist style, based on a square plan and entirely in reinforced concrete. The design is typical of the architect.

The flat roof is supported by large vertical-slab concrete beams which divide the square into nine smaller zones, and has deep eaves. Of these smaller zones, the walls of the ones on the corners keep to the plan, and the zones are square. The middle zone on each side is wider than each of these, and hence is rectangular. The wall of the one containing the altar protrudes slightly, and those of the ones midway along the other three walls are recessed. The left hand middle zone abuts a tenth square, which is the ferial or Blessed Sacrament chapel. This has a substantially lower roof.

The recessed sections of the side walls each have a row of twelve windows tucked under the eaves. The ones on the right are rectangular, but those on the left are square because there is only a shallow strip of wall above the chapel roof here.

The altar wall has six rectangular windows, in two groups of three separated by a central gap. The near and far side walls each have a vertical rectangular strip window at their far ends, occupying most of the height, but for some reason the far right hand wall has two of these. These windows are framed by protruding concrete piers.

The external colour scheme is a pale grey, with the roof eaves and piers in an ugly greenish-grey.

Campanile Edit

The little tower campanile stands on the left hand front wall. It is in the form of two tall concrete slabs placed longitudinally and facing each other, with the right hand one bending over at the top in an inverted L to join the left hand one. The bells are hung in the void.

Façade Edit

The church is not on the street, but stands behind a pleasant garden area with mature trees. To the right is a marble statue of the Madonna and Child, rather charming with Our Lady holding Christ as an exuberant toddler.

At the entrance, occupying the middle front zone of the church, the recessed main wall is behind a large floating horizontal concrete entrance canopy. This has a dedicatory inscription on its fascia: D[eo] O[ptimo] M[aximo], in h[onorem] s[anctae] Iulianae Billiart, AD MCMXCI.

Above it, the central wall is occupied by a row of twelve vertical rectangular stained glass windows, recessed in concrete frames which are continued up to the eaves.

Under the canopy are three identical rectangular entrance portals (only the two outer ones are actually used). On the pier in between the central and right hand portals is a memorial to the first parish priest, Fortunato Delladrea 1992. It has a large portrait medallion in bronze.

The ferial chapel has its own entrance, around the corner to the left.

InteriorEdit

Fabric Edit

The interior basically one large rectangular room, lit by good modern stained glass windows which give most of the colour as the walls and ceiling are in white with the architectural details highlighted in light grey. The windows have semi-abstract designs on a vaguely astronomical theme (the empyrean).

The roof's main slab beams are prominent, and the central square of the roof is itself decorated with a criss-cross pattern made up of eight sub-beams. The other zones have longitudinal sub-beams. These smaller beams used to be painted in yellow.

The ferial chapel is separated from the main church by a clear glass screen. The Blessed Sacrament is enshrined here. The axis is perpendicular to that of the main church, and there is a row of four windows in each side wall.

Furnishings Edit

The sanctuary is raised on a platform with three steps, and the altar is lit by a circular skylight. The altar itself has a limestone pedestal bearing a gilded chi-rho symbol.

There is an interesting mural of the Resurrection behind the altar, focused on a wooden statue of Christ. Two groups of three stained glass windows are on either side of this mural.

In the far left hand corner of the church are two polychrome statues of the Madonna and Child with St Joseph, and near these to the left is a statue of St Julia with two children (this was moved recently).

In the right hand corner, next to the sanctuary platform, is the baptismal font which is a block of limestone having a cross plan and incorporating the Easter candlestick. The church's organ is over to the right, unfortunately blocking two of the windows.

Liturgy Edit

The parish website advertises Mass times according to the season. According to the Diocese (2016), the overall schedule is:

Weekdays 9:00 (not August, or on Saturdays and eves of Solemnities), 18:00 (19:00 July and August);

Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:30 (not July and August), 18:00 (19:00 July and August).

There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on:

First Monday of the month 19:00 to 20:30;

First Thursday of the month 17:00 to 18:00 (under the aegis of the "Padre Pio Prayer Group" -see St Pius of Pietrelcina);

First Friday of the month 17:00 to 18:00.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

Beweb web-page

Roman Despatches - blog with gallery

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