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Santa Maria Madre dell'Accoglienza

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Santa Maria Madre dell'Accoglienza is a 21st century church attached to a hotel and conference centre complex with an address at Via Sacrofanese 25, Rome.

The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under a special title of Mother of Hospitality.

Location Edit

The address of the complex is Via Sacrofanese 25, 00188-Roma which appears (on Google Maps) to be near Sacrofano train station in the suburban zone of Prima Porta. Via Sacrofanese is a private road that leads off the Via Flaminia here, near the Arch of Malborghetto.

However the actual location is not in the city of Rome, but just over the boundary in a suburban settlement called Monte Caminetto which is part of the municipality or commune of Sacrofano. It is at the other end of the Via Sacrofanese from the road junction mentioned, after a long and meandering course through open countryside.

Neither is the location in the Diocese of Rome, but in the Diocese of Civita Castellana. So, it only belongs in this Wikia on the basis of its postal address.

Hopefully this was not "arranged" in order to mislead tourists and pilgrims. The location is a seriously long way from the city's Centro Storico - well over twenty kilometres.

WARNING. The Fraterna Domus website advises travellers from the airport to catch the train to Sacrofano station. This is nowhere near the complex. There is a local bus service, but the website does not tell you about that.

History Edit

The church is part of the Fraterna Domus ("Brotherly House") complex on the site, which comprises pilgrim and tourist hotel accommodation with conference and spiritual retreat facilities. Also here is a small Marian shrine dedicated to the Vergine della Sorgente ("Virgin of the Spring").

The Fraterna Domus was founded in 1975 by Don Francesco Bisinella (1927-2004), a priest of Rieti. His idea was to provide the sort of hospitality to guests and pilgrims that is traditional in consecrated religious life, but without the administrators being required to make religious vows. So, the Sorella Missionaria Fraterna Domus is an association of secular volunteer helpers, not a religious congregation.

It could be argued that the Fraterna Domus is a useful response to the collapse in the numbers of consecrated religious in Italy (as elsewhere in the developed world).

In 1980, a building adjacent to the church of Santa Lucia della Tinta in the Centro Storico was opened as the first Fraterna Domus in Rome. A much bigger complex was proposed on a green-field site just outside the boundary of the city and Diocese, in the commune of Sacrofano . The grotto of the Vergine della Sorgente here was blessed in 1991.

In 2005 the foundation stone for the new church was laid, and the edifice erected to a design by Franco Trabucchi. It was consecrated in 2011.

The complex now has twelve hotel blocks with about eight hundred beds. Conference rooms of different sizes are available for meetings from about twenty-five to a thousand people.

Exterior Edit

This is a large round church, capable of holding a congregation of a thousand.

The design is governed by the roof, which is a low cone having a complex design. It is divided into eight unequal sectors, four wider ones separated by four narrower ones. The sectors are separated by massive concrete beam-ribs, and for each wider sector these beams are connected within the top angle by a concrete panel which is curved at its lower edge so that the edges of the pair of beams and the panel together form a gigantic parabola. The panel is raised above the actual roof surface to allow for a curved window strip below it.

The roof within the larger sectors is in a smooth composition, but within each smaller sector it has twelve panels arranged in transverse steps, with a very thin window strip as the riser between one and the next.

The roof sectors meet at a lantern which consists of a low drum with a ring of eight almost square windows around its top and a glass cupola. The cupola is enclosed by an ogee-curved cage of eight curved metal girders meeting at a ball and cross finial.

The exterior wall is in pink brick, divided into seven equal horizontal zones by thin strips of concrete. Around the entire church is an ambulatory or walkway, sheltered by a flat roof edged in white travertine and supported by grey concrete columns -two below each large roof sector, and one below each small one. The white concrete roof ribs are continued across the top of the ambulatory roof as horizontal beams, then to the ground as pillars. In between the ambulatory roof and the church roofline is fitted a continuous window strip.

The ambulatory floor is paved with grey tiles, with white radial strips below the (invisible) horizontal roof beams just mentioned.

The ambulatory runs in front of the entrance without any special features to mark it. The entrance itself is a single enormous wooden door below one of the larger roof sectors, and is approached by a long flight of steps beyond the ambulatory.

The wall fenestration is a little complex. The entrance sector has four large narrow rectangular windows, twp pairs flanking the doorway, and the two further sectors on each side also each have two pairs of windows each. The smaller sectors flanking the altar sector have no windows, and the altar sector has two pairs of horizontally rectangular windows flanking a blank wall panel behind the altar.

Interior Edit

The interior has a second ambulatory, which is separated from the central seating area for the congregation by eight square concrete piers panelled in white to give the effect of a vertical row of tiles on each face. These piers provide the internal support for the roof ribs.

The central congregational area is paved in what looks like grey marble, with four separated quarter-circles marked out with lines of red tiles. At the entrance sector these red lines follow an incut segment, to make way for an entrance lobby zone. The smaller sectors flanking the entrance sector each have a side chapel, and these are within the internal ambulatory.

The interior of the roof exactly matches its exterior, giving a very interesting cross pattern. The piers, ribs, stepped sectors, curved top panels and lantern are in white, but the smooth portions below the curved panels as well as the curved exterior wall of the ambulatory is in a pinkish grey.

The sanctuary interrupts the internal ambulatory, as it is raised on three steps of unequal height. The free-standing altar is a box in polished travertine, with a slightly raised mensa with a substantial overhang. The far wall behind the altar is flanked by a pair of pilasters in the same style as the ambulatory piers, and has a large hanging crucifix. This was executed in mediaeval style by anonymous nuns of a clausura francese. The tabernacle has a relief of The Good Shepherd based on a fresco in the Catacombs of Santa Priscilla.

Access and liturgy Edit

The church has an odd status, since it is not part of a convent nor does it seem to have a public pastoral outreach beyond the Fraterna Domus.

As a church, it should be open to anybody wishing to visit (not just guests at the Fraterna Domus). It should also have a priest attached to it. However, no details of opening times or of liturgical events are available online.

External links Edit

Fraterna Domus website

Dibaio web-page

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