|Santa Maria Liberatrice a Monte Testaccio|
|English name:||St Mary the Liberator at the Potsherd Mountain|
|Dedication:||Blessed Virgin Mary (Our Lady, Liberatrix)|
|Address:||Via Lorenzo Ghiberti 2|
The church was designed by Mario Ceradini, and its future administration was initially entrusted to the Benedictines of Sant’Anselmo on the Aventine nearby, which is the Generalate of the Order. The intention was to build a church big enough for the entire new working-class neighbourhood of Testaccio. However, the Benedictines had to pull out owing to being fully committed to establishing a college and liturgical institute, and also because several Benedictine congregations object to administering parishes. The responsibility for the new church was transferred to the Salesians.
The church was completed in 1908, in what is described as a Romanesque-Byzantine style. It was initially to be called Santa Maria della Provvidenza, but when the old church of Santa Maria Liberatrice al Foro Romano was demolished in 1900 it was decided to use that title instead. Many artworks from the old church were transferred, including a venerated fresco of Our Lady which was enthroned over the main altar. It had been in the apse of the old church, and had been rescued by the Benedictine oblate nuns at Tor de’Specchi. They also helped financially with the cost.
This remains the only parish church of the district, and is the focal point of its layout.
The present titular is Giovanni Lajolo.
The “Byzantine” appellation seems to derive from the horizontal stone stripes inserted into the brick fabric of the exterior walls of the church.
The building is on the plan of a Latin cross, and has a nave with two aisles. The façade has three matching entrances for nave and aisles, the central one being slightly larger and more ornate. They have very broad arches enclosing tympani containing mosaics. Above the main entrance is a row of seven round-headed lancet windows in stone, and above that are coats-of-arms of the two religious institutions involved in the foundation (Salesians and Tor de’Specchi) flanking those of Pope Pius X. Then there are two large mosaics, copies of two frescoes at Santa Maria Antiqua. The lower one is of Our Lady enthroned and being venerated by saints, and the one above is a Crucifixion. These mosaics were initially badly fixed, and almost fell off in 1925 when they had to be restored. The roofline is a plain gable.
The short nave has three bays, with two pairs of red granite columns supporting oversized carved cushion capitals. The aisles contain side altars with paintings taken from the old church. Notable is the black and white mosaic pavement down the middle of the nave, which features the signs of the Zodiac. The pillars of the crossing are square, and the transepts contain altars to St John Bosco and St Frances of Rome. The aisles are continued either side of the sanctuary as enclosed sacristies, with entrances matching those in the façade. The main altar, with icon above, has a large baldacchino in red marble supported by black granite columns with capitals. Behind this, in the apse are frescoes by Luciano Bartoli, completed in 1964. He was also responsible for the stained glass windows in the nave and transepts.