Santa Maria della Provvidenza a Valle Aurelia is an early 20th century dependent church of the parish of San Giuseppe Cottolengo, at Via degli Embrici 32 in the Valle Aurelia to the north-west of Vatican City. This is in the Aurelio quarter.
The remote origins of the little church lie with the Congregation of the Servants of Charity (Servi della Carità). This was founded by St Luigi Guanella at Como in 1886 and was formally constituted as a congregation of vowed religious in 1906, with a special interest in caring for poor sick and disabled people. A common nickname for it is Opera Don Guanella.
The first house of the Servi in Rome was opened in 1903, next to the Via Aurelia Antica at number 438. However, this was only a small establishment. St Luigi moved to Rome, and became a personal friend of Pope St Pius X who encouraged his work. As a result he was able to found the city's major cult centre of St Joseph at San Giuseppe al Trionfale, and began a much larger convent on an expansive neighbouring plot on the Via Aurelia. This is the present Casa San Giuseppe -see San Giuseppe dell’Opera Don Guanella.
Back then, the area was mostly rural but included brick kilns using an outcrop of clay in the Valle Aurelia to the west of the Janiculum. The workers in these were poorly provided for in religious matters, and in response St Giuseppe set up a mission for them in 1905. After his death in 1912, the Opera founded the little church of Santa Maria della Provvidenza in 1917. This was only consecrated in 1921.
This church remained a mission centre run by the Opera until 1962, when a parish was finally erected. It worshipped here until the new church of San Giuseppe Cotolengo was provided. The old church was kept on as a subsidiary Mass centre -mostly out of historical interest, since the two churches are within walking distance. The last brick-kiln had closed in 1960, and the old church is one of the few relics left of the locality's industrial past.
The church has a single nave, on a rectangular plan with the sanctuary end included in an ancillary block at the far end.
The edifice is proportionately high for its width, giving it a look of some dignity for its size. The exterior is in a neo-Baroque style, and is rendered in orange-pink with architectural details in white.
The façade has four Doric pilasters supporting an entablature and triangular pediment. The outer pair of pilasters occupy the corners, and are doubled round the corner. The side walls have the entablature continued beneath the roofline, and this is supported in each wall by another two pilasters framing a large rectangular window.
The single entrance door has a raised floating horizontal cornice, and above this is a large square window which almost touches the entablature above.
The campanile is a pierced brickwork slab over the far right hand side wall. It has round-headed openings for five bells, a little gable on top and two side pitches lower down.
The Via degli Embrici is hardly better than an alleyway, with room for one car if you don't open the doors. It ends in a scruffy brownfield area with the church on the right.
Buses 495 and 496 terminate on the Via di Valle Aurelia just to the south of the junction, and run from Valle Aurelia metro station.
Mass is celebrated on Saturday (for Sunday) at 17:00, and on Sunday at 9:30.
From 15 June to 14 September the Saturday Mass is at 17:30.