|Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Via Tuscolana|
|English name:||Our Lady the Helper in Via Tuscolana|
|Dedication:||Blessed Virgin Mary|
|Type:||Titular church, Minor basilica|
|Titular church||Cardinal Bertone|
|Address:|| Piazza S. Maria Ausiliatrice 54 |
|Phone:||06 78 27 892|
Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Via Tuscolana is a modern minor basilica and parish and titular church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in her rôle as Auxilatrix or Help of Christians. It is located at Piazza di Santa Maria Ausiliatrce 54, on the Via Tuscolana in the Tuscolano district. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons.  There is an English Wikipedia article. 
The cardinalate title is as given, but the church and parish are usually referred to merely as Santa Maria Ausiliatrice.
The veneration of Our Lady as Help of Christians dates from the time of Pope Pius V, who used this title in interceding for her assistance against the expansionist policy of the Ottoman Empire. He regarded the naval victory of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 as being the result of her spiritual assistance, preventing a Muslim invasion of Italy. The actual title was invented at Venice, which provided most of the Christian ships at the battle.
St John Bosco, throughout his career at Turin, had a great devotion to Our Lady under this name, and so passed on this veneration to the Salesian Order that he founded. So, when this parish church was founded by Pope Pius XI in 1932 and granted to the Salesians, it was given this dedication at their request.
The architectural partnership of Nicola Mosso and Giulio Vallotti designed the church edifice (rather indifferently, it may be said), and it was completed in 1936.
It was established as a cardinalitial titular deaconry in 1967, with Francesco Cardinal Carpino as the first cardinal priest (1967-1978). Tarsicio Bertone inherited the title in 2003, and in 2010 was succeeded by Paolo Sardi.
The church is one of the great modern domed churches of Rome (a bit further down the Via Tuscolana is another one owned by the Salesians, San Giovanni Bosco in via Tuscolana). It has the plan of a sub-Latin cross, with very short transepts, a rather short nave and a semi-circular apse. The roofs are all pitched and tiled, except over the aisles of the presbyterium, and the exterior walls are in red brick except for the façade.
The dome is octagonal, with a brick drum having a large horizontal rectangular window in each side. The eight tiled pitches of the dome itself meet at a point, without any lantern or decorative finial.
The façade has two storeys, and unusually the second storey is of greater height than the first. This gives the composition a top-heavy appearance. Very unfortunately, and presumably to save money, only the first storey was built in travertine limestone and the rest was rendered in stucco coloured to fit. As should have been realized, the two materials have weathered differently and now clash.
The first storey has a full entablature, and this is supported by four rectangular pilasters with imposts but no capitals. Two of these occupy the corners. Projecting from the main frontage is the large entrance propylaeum, which has two pairs of half-round derivative Composite columns (with siplified capitals) flanking an enormous round-headed doorway with a ribbed frame. At the apex of the door-arch is a single volute, and there is a vertical row of three round-headed niches between each pair of columns. The latter support an entablature with the dedication engraved on the frieze, and above this is a tringular pediment which intrudes into the second storey. Either side of the propylaeum, there is a smaller aisle door, also round-headed, and nearer the outer corner a window with the same proportions as the aisle door.
The second storey has a string course near its base, which provides cornices for four empty plinths above the rectangular pilasters on the main first storey frontage. In its centre there is a large arched window, flanked by two fully round reverse Ionic columns (the volutes on the capitals curve upwards) which support a protruding entablature and triangular pediment. Over the window arch are two cherubs supporting a relief carving of the coat-of-arms of Pope Pius XI, facing at an angle downwards, and the tiara and crossed keys on the top of this are in the middle of the entablature. There is a pair of pilasters with the capitals in the same style flanking this very ostentatious window frame, and flanking those two very large blank recessed vertical rectangular panels.
There are two identical belltowers on the corners of the façade, and each has three storeys. The first one is a blank cuboid with internally square-cut corners, and this is separated from the actual bell-stage by a cornice. Each side of the bell-stage has an arched sound-hole, framed by a pair of small (correct this time) Ionic columns supporting a dentillated triangular pediment. The third storey is a little octagonal drum with cap, mimicking the main dome.
It is built on a plan which is somewhere between a Latin and a Greek cross, meaning that the nave is longer than the transepts, but not long enough to form the usual Latin cross plan. The dome is supported by four very large arches which have coffered intradoses, the decoration of the coffering being alternately an octagon and a four-square. The aisles have arcades with piers. There is an inner dome, which is a saucer over two rows of small rectangular windows with sixteen windows each. The natural light from the large windows in the outer dome finds its way through the void between the inner and outer domes to shine through these inner windows, giving a rather numinous effect when the sun is not bright.
The frescoes were painted 1957-1965, by the priest artist Don Giuseppe Melle, and are inspired by Baroque art. They are extremely good, the best thing about the church. The barrel-vault of the nave has a trompe l'oeil depiction of the Triumph of Admiral Marc'antonio Colonna at Lepanto and of King Jan Sobieski at Vienna (the latter when the Turks were crushed at Vienna). The conch or catino of the apse has the Coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven in the Presence of the Angels and Saints, and the barrel-vault of the presbyterium has the One Sacrifice of Christ at Calvary and on the Altar. The interior of the dome depicts the Assumption, and below the windows are depicted various important historical events concerning Our Lady, including the Garden of Eden and the Council of Ephesus in the year 431 when she was declared to be Mother of God. The frescoes on the spandrels continue this theme.