Santa Maria Josefa del Cuore di Gesù is a 21st century parish church at Piazza Santa Maria Josefa del Cuore di Gesù 25, in the suburban area of Castelverde di Lunghezza, north of Via Prenestina and south of the old Campagna town of Lunghezza. It is in the zone of Lunghezza.
The dedication is to St Mary Joseph of the Heart of Jesus Sancho de Guerra (1842-1912) who founded the “Sisters, Servants of Jesus” at Bilbao in Spain.
The parish was erected in 1989, and dedicated to St Louise de Marillac. However, when a permanent church was proposed in 1997 it was decided to change the dedication to the present one.
The church was completed in 2001, to a design by the Studio Garofalo-Miura (Francesco Garofalo and Sharon Yoshie Miura).
The parish is administered by the Company of Mary, also known as the Montfort Fathers.
The church is in a very new suburban development, and in 2016 its eponymous piazza was still a patch of bare ground with nothing but a pole with its street-name tablet on it. It might not be found yet on online maps -try Via Marcello Candia if so.
The church itself, like many new ones in Rome, is actually itself quite small but is part of a sports and social complex for the use of the wider community.
The plan is rectangular along the major axis, almost square. Attached to the front is a shallow entrance porch, which extends slightly to the right to join a thin rectangular tower campanile. The left third of the frontage is occupied by the ferial or weekday chapel, which is trapezoidal in plan with the short side in front. From the far left hand corner of this a covered corridor runs down the left hand side of the church to the ancillary accommodation at the back.
The parish offices and social facilities are in a long, transverse L-shaped block into which the back of the church intrudes.
The fabric has a reinforced concrete frame. The side walls are in large brownish-grey stone ashlar stone blocks, which are mostly blank. Low down in the right hand wall is a row of five windows of different shapes (rectangles and Ls) and at slightly different heights. Beyond this, higher up, is a large window feature in white, which amounts to a square-based truncated pyramid stuck to the wall. The truncation is at an angle, so that the actual fenestration is a trapezoid.
The left hand side wall has no windows. The roof slopes from the horizontal top of the façade, back on a parabolic arc until it meets the flat roof of the ancillary block.
The campanile is also in grey ashlar blocks, a blank tower on a longitudinal rectangular plan. The tops of the short walls are cut away just below the flat top to form two very large sound-holes in which the bells are hung.
The sound-hole at the back, unlike the one at the front, has its side edges in the same plane as the roofline for its top half, and is stepped back further down.
Ferial chapel Edit
The ferial chapel, which has a prominent presence to the left of the church's entrance, is a blank-walled trapezoidal block with a high dark grey dado. There is a recessed window strip across its near roofline, which is continued down part of each side with no visible support. The interesting thing about this structure is its colour, which is now white above the dado -see the note on the ancillary block below.
Red can fade! Edit
When the church with its ancillary units was built, the ferial chapel and the long L-shaped ancillary block at the back were both rendered in a bright red colour with a hint of purple. This was spectacular, but...
The architects made a serious mistake in specifying the paint to be used. The colour faded in the sun very quickly, and as a result the ferial chapel and the frontage of the ancillary block facing the church have both been re-painted in white with a hint of blue. If you want to see how badly the original paintwork has faded, go to the soccer pitch at the back where some of it was still in view in 2016.
The church is set back from the street, behind a set of simple vertical railings in dark green. Just within the latter a line of fastigiate conifer trees, planted too close together -these cypresses can grow to a serious size (the mistake is an old one -see Sant'Agnese fuori le Mura). Some of the trees are happy and some sulky, so the result is looking stupid until they sort themselves out. This might take a few years.
As mentioned, the ferial chapel occupies the left hand third of the church frontage. However, the façade is three storeys high, whereas the chapel is only as high as the first two storeys.
The first storey, to the right of the chapel, is occupied by the entrance porch which is flat-roofed. This extends to the campanile to the right, and has no supports. Within, the actual entrance is a large set of doors next to the chapel. Next to this to the right is a wall in the same ashlar stonework as the rest of the church's exterior walls, except here the colour of the stonework has been exploited to give a vertical striped effect.
The entire frontage of the upper three storeys is one enormous window, with the actual fenestration set behind a screen. This screen consists of two thin concrete beams separating the storeys, while each storey is occupied by wide white slab-piers. These are alternately in pairs and single, and the spacing is such that the piers in each storey do not align with those above or below. The effect is rather jarring.
The interior is one large space, with the sanctuary at the back. The side walls are in white, above a tall wooden dado. The ceiling is in wide transverse planks in varnished pine, which are not fitted to create a smooth curve but step down towards the back of the church behind the sanctuary.
Stained glass in the windows is by Daniela Longo.
The sanctuary is raised on four steps, and is backed by a screen in greyish-green marble, not one surface but with angles and slots. The floor of the church is in the same stone. The altar is in grey-veined Carrara marble, as are the ambo or pulpit to the left and the slabs backing the seating of the ministers also to the left.
The central sanctuary crucifix and a Madonna and Child are sculpted by Conrad Moroder. The statue of St Maria Josefa is by Mario Cosci, and The Deposition is by Nino La Barbera.
Visitors need to be warned that the church is apparently not open for most of the working day. The Diocese has the weekday opening as 17:00 to 20:00. This is unusual, even in Rome where church opening hours can be restricted.
According to the Diocese, Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 18:30 (only);
Sundays and Solemnities 10:00, 11:30, 18:30.
There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on First Fridays from 17:00 to 18:00.