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Santa Maria a Setteville

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Santa Maria a Setteville is a very late 20th century parish church at Via Ludovico Muratori 43 in the suburb of Setteville. This is part of the township of Guidonia Monticelio, is north of the Via Tiburtina and east of Settecamini.

The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Location Edit

The church is in the diocese of Rome, but not in the municipality.

There has been substantial suburban overspill across Rome's city limits in this area. The city boundary actually runs through the suburb of Setteville, and the portion to the north of this can be found referred to as Setteville di Guidonia. The city's portion, Setteville "di Roma" (although no-one calls it that) is in the suburban zone of Settecamini.

The church is north of the city boundary, and is probably the most notable church of the Diocese which is not actually in Rome.

History Edit

For the palaeochristian complex in the area, see Santa Sinforosa.

The locality used to belong to the parish of Santa Maria dell’Olivo, but a dependent curacy was set up in 1971 with a dedication to Santissimo Nome di Maria e Santa Sinforosa in recognition of the local connection to the latter saint. It was a pity that the name was not kept when the full parish was erected in 1973.

Initially the parish was in the charge of the Sacerdoti del Lavore Cristiano, a clerical society based at Casale Monferrato. This does not seem to exist any more, and the parish is now administered by diocesan clergy.

The parish had to wait a quarter of a century for a permanent church. This was begun in 1997 and consecrated in 2000, and is to a spectacular contemporary design by Sandro Benedetti.

Exterior Edit

Layout Edit

The church's site has been taken from a huge ploughed field to the north of the suburb, and the church is set well back from the road.

The plan is based on an octagon superimposed on a Maltese cross. The main worshipping area is the octagon, and appended to the cardinal sides of this are four trapezoidal extensions. The one at the far end (behind the sanctuary) is deeper and wider than the other three, and contains the ferial chapel. The front annexe forms the entrance lobby, and the two side ones contain the baptismal font and confessionals.

The back wall of the sanctuary abuts the ancillary block, containing the priests' accommodation and parish offices.

In front of the entrance lobby is an atrium in the ancient meaning of the word.

Fabric Edit

The church has a reinforced concrete frame, with infill walls in bright red brick.

The atrium is the same width as the church behind, and has the plan of a transverse rectangle. It comprises an inner impluvium or void open to the sky, and this is surrounded by a roof in anodised metal which has four pitches (one for each side) sloping down to the impluvium. This roof is supported by eight thin white concrete piers, two in each short side and four in each long side -these piers are not at the corners, and the inner two in each long side are close together.

The entrance lobby surrounds a tall, prominent tower campanile in blank red brick. This is on the plan of a square with a triangle attached to the mid part of each side, and has a tall pyramidal cap in metal. Oddly, there is only one very large rectangular sound-hole occupying the entire width of the bell-chamber and this is flanked by a pair of white concrete columns. Near the base of the front of the tower is a round window with a decorative frame in the form of a Maltese cross recalling the plan of the church.

The low exterior walls of the church itself are also in blank red brick. Each of the cardinal side walls has four brick pilasters, two at the corners, and these have the parapet above posted out to give the impression of capitals. A horizontal rectangular window with a frame in relief is in between the inner pair of pilasters, the frame being embellished with little stone squares at the corners. The diagonal side walls of the sanctuary arm each have a row of three square windows in a common frame of the same design.

The roofs of the cross-arm extensions are all flat, with low dark grey concrete parapets. There is a flat walkway around the outside of the octagonal main roof, but this is mostly taken up by a low dome in anodised metal. The dome has eight trapezoidal pitches meeting at an octagonal platform on which a prominent lantern stands. The metal lantern is on the plan of a Maltese cross, with four large horizontally rectangular windows in the ends of the arms which are trapezoidal boxes having inwardly sloping tops. These boxes meet at a little, low octagonal turret with its own tiny low cupola.

The roofs have dormers. The side arms each have a wedge-shaped one in the centre of the flat roof, the tip of the wedge touching the central dome and the base being a large window above the parapet of the side wall. The sanctuary arm dormer is much larger, almost as wide as the dome sector on that side and reaching halfway up it. The near (lower) part of this dormer wedge is occupied by a large skylight.

Interior Edit

The interior is dominated by the roof, as the external dome is not matched by an internal one. This roof is in varnished and laminated pine, and is supported by eight radial slab-piers at the corners of the octagon. In between these piers at the diagonal sides are flat-roofed recessed areas. Eight doubled truss-beams spring from the piers and slope gently up to meet as a star arrangement above the centre of the octagon. By means of vertical struts, these beams support eight further truss-beams which rise at a steeper angle from the piers and provide the divisions of the roof sectors. The latter are each fitted with horizontal planks and radial battens.

The low internal walls are in white. The far right hand diagonal side contains the entrance to the ferial chapel behind the sanctuary. The sanctuary itself is included within the octagonal main worshipping area, and has icons on its far wall in classic Byzantine style.

Museum Edit

The church is unusual in having an archeological museum in its crypt.

During its construction a stretch of the ancient Via Cornicolani was found, paved with basalt blocks, and this has been preserved and is on view. Also on show are many artefacts, including ones illegally excavated and recovered by the police authorities. This establishment is known as Il Museo della via Cornicolana.

Access Edit

Church Edit

The church is open, according to the Diocese:

Weekdays 7:30 to 12:00, 16:00 to 19:30;

Sundays and Solemnities 7:30 to 12:30, 16:00 to 19:00.

In July and August, the church is open daily at 17:00 instead of 16:00.

Museum Edit

The museum has restricted opening times:

Last Saturday of the month 18:30 to 19:30;

First Sunday of the month 12:00 to 13:00.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated:

Weekdays 9:00, 18:00 (19:00 July and August);

Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:30, 18:00 (19:00 July and August).

There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Thursdays from 9:30 to 18:00, but not in July or August.

External links Edit

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