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Santa Maria della Consolazione a Piazza Ottavilla

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Santa Maria della Consolazione a Piazza Ottavilla is a 20th century convent church at Piazza Ottavilla 1 in the Gianicolense quarter, near the church of San Pancrazio. Pictures on Wikimedia Commons are here.

The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of "Our Lady of Consolation".

HistoryEdit

This is the church of the Generalate of the Discalced Augustinian friars, set up here in the early 20th century after the order lost its previous headquarters at Gesù e Maria in 1873.

It is not clear why it was given the status of a church. It has no civic profile, and no external pastoral responsibilities either. Perhaps it was originally intended to function as a subsidiary church to the parish church of San Pancrazio when that parish was set up in 1931.

ExteriorEdit

The church is on the ground floor of a large and undistinguished four-storey block on the north side of the piazza, occupying the right hand side and with the sanctuary protruding at the back in a single-storey annexe. This has a little semi-circular apse, invisible from the street.

The entrance consists of a doorway with a polished travertine limestone door-case, recessed in two steps and with the epigraph Madonna della Consolazione on the lintel.

There is no other indication externally of any church here. However, if you look round the right (east) side of the block from a viewpoint further back in the piazza, you will see the tops of its three round-headed windows in the right hand wall of the first storey of the premises.

Interior Edit

Nave Edit

The church is basically a large room, having no architectural interest. The walls are in a pale pink, with a high dado in polished travertine. The ceiling, also in pink, is supported by transverse reinforced concrete beams which are given a very gentle incurve on their lower faces. These beams are joined by spaced longitudinal rafters, and beams and rafters are in a light grey.

A sort-of cornice runs along the tops of the side walls, near the ceiling, and this is also in grey.

The right hand side wall of the nave has two large round-headed windows containing stained glass within clear glass surrounds, and these windows are within embrasures that are extended to the floor.

Sanctuary Edit

The sanctuary is structurally separate, since it occupies an annexe and is not part of the main Generalate building. You can discern this from the very solid ceiling beam supported by a pair of shallow engaged piers, which actually bear the load of the external wall of the three storeys above. The nave cornice mentioned above terminates at the tops of these piers.

The far wall of the sanctuary contains the sanctuary apse, which has a conch and is provided with a triumphal arch. A third window is in the right hand side wall.

In contrast to the simplicity of the nave walls, the far wall and the apse is richly decorated with differently coloured marbles and mosaics:

The triumphal arch has corner piers in a yellow and grey marble, and these piers have imposts in white marble which are extended across the far wall as string courses. These piers support a main archivolt in a more intensely yellow marble, but are tripletted longitudinally so as to support two nested archivolts in dark green. The smallest of these actually frames the apse conch.

The side wall below the string courses comprise two little side chapels. Each is framed in the yellowish-grey marble again, and within this frame is a rectangular recess containing the altar. Above the altar is a round-headed niche containing the altarpiece. Recess and niche are in grey-veined white marble, and the altarpieces are framed in yellow. The left hand altar is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, and the right hand one to St Rita (who had been an Augustinian nun).

The main altar is a simple marble table, without a frontal. Behind, the apse wall is revetted in regular rectangular slabs of a very light grey marble, and on this is a large gilded glory containing angels which contains the tabernacle. The top of the wall has a frieze with an epigraph Regina mater consolationis ("Queen, mother of consolation"), and the conch has a large mosaic depicting the Madonna and Child with SS Augustine and Monica.

The triumphal arch spandrels have mosaics of putto's heads, two in each, and above the chapels are two mosaic panels depicting trophies made up of symbols of the Order.

Access and liturgy Edit

The writer has not been able to find information on times of opening and of Mass, but the church is open to the public.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Order's website

Info.roma web-page

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