Santa Maria della Salute is a mid 20th century parish and titular church with a postal address at Via Tommaso De Vio 5 in the Primavalle quarter. The main entrance is on Piazza Alfonso Capecelatro.
The cardinalate title is Santa Maria della Salute a Primavalle.
The parish was set up in 1950, and entrusted to the administration of the Regular Tertiaries of St Francis. The church was designed by Giorgio Guidi, and completed in 1960. Part of the interior decoration commissioned in that year was a set of paintings by Michele De Meo.
Vittorio "Vitto" Venturelli executed mosaics in the side chapels from 1972 to 1976.
Layout and fabric Edit
This church was designed to a traditional plan, with little concession to contemporary architectural fashions. There is a nave without aisles, and a short sanctuary at a lower level. Both of these have pitched and tiled roofs. Attached to the sanctuary is a five-sided apse, which shares its roof.
The nave has five bays. The side walls are in blank pink brickwork, and the bays are separated by gigantic pilasters revetted with white stone slabs. These contain drainpipes, and support projecting architraves of the same material running the length of the nave on each side. Above each of these in turn is a railed walkway, behild which is a row of small rectangular windows four to each bay, slightly recessed and tucked under the roofline, a total of twenty on each side. A design fault is that drainpipes in the pilasters are exposed on the frieze.
The presence of the walkways is a clue that the nave side walls are screens and are not load-bearing.
There is a separate campanile attached to the top right hand corner of the nave. It is a tall square tower entirely in white stone slabs, with an arched sound-hole on each side flanked by a pair of vertical slits.
The apse is in the same style as the nave, with five pilasters and a frieze. However, the curved apse wall is load-bearing and has a strip of brickwork above the frieze on which the roof rests.
The gabled entrance façade of the nave is slightly higher than the actual nave roof, and is false as it screens the walkways at the top of the side walls. It is surprising to find such an architectural falsity at so late a date. It is in blank pink brick again, with six shallow pilasters (a pair at the corners), but here in the same brick and not clad in stone. There is a Papal coat-of-arms in stone relief just below the top of the gable, of Pope St John XXIII.
Most of the façade is taken up with a tall flat-roofed external portico, again in white stone slabs and with three large and tall entrance arches narrow in proportion. These match the arcades of the buildings all round the piazza, which was designed and built in one piece. Either side of the arches, the portico façade is brought forward slightly. On the roofline are three bronze statues, of the Madonna and Child being venerated by a pair of angels.
The portico has two storeys, with a gallery above the loggia. The frontages of the three gallery balconies have three large rectangular terracotta reliefs, inserted into the arched portals mentioned. The theme seems to be St Francis and his Modern Disciples. The far wall of the gallery has three large windows, which light the nave interior. The loggia itself has three corresponding entrances. Here is a plaque commemorating a visit by Pope St John XXIII on 20 March 1960.
The baptistery is not in the church, but opens off at an end of the loggia.
The loggia is approached by steps, which are railed off and enclosed at each end by two corner walls in the shape of an L which join onto the corners of the portico. On these stand two gigantic statues of SS Peter and Paul.
The interior echoes a basilical layout. The nave has five bays, separated by large transverse rectangular piers in a puce colour, which support the roof. Each pier is attached to the side wall, and has three large apertures arranged vertically. The lowest one is rectangular, and allows passage behind the pier. The two above are round-headed, the archivolt of the upper one being just below the flat soffit of the exterior walkway.
These piers divide the sides of the nave into five large niches on each side, giving the impression of aisles. Six of these are side chapels. The far right hand niche contains the church organ, elevated in a gallery.
The roof is open, without a ceiling. The piers support solid transverse concrete slab joists with an arc cut out of the lower edge of each, giving the impression of transverse arches. In between the joists, the roof displays longitudinal concrete ribs. All is in white.
Above the walkway soffit on each side are four stained glass windows in each bay.
The sanctuary is one bay deep, is narrower and lower than the nave and has a shallow barrel vault matching the cut-out curves in the roof joists. The segmental curve of this provides a simple triumphal arch, set in an undecorated white surface reaching to the nave roof ridge. Below the springers of the vault the wall on each side is in the puce colour again, as are the side walls of the sanctuary bay. Each of the latter has a sacristy door, over which is a cantoria or floating balcony for solo musicians. The pair of these are in white, and a white strip of a string course runs down the nave on each side to give a decorative stripe to the piers.
The apse is undecorated, in a very pale orange, with a blank wall and conch separated by a singly molded frieze in white. The altarpiece is a copy of the familiar Cross of San Damiano, flanked by a row of five Byzantine-style icons on each side.
According to the diocese, the church is open:
7:00 to 12:00, 15:30 to 19:30.
Mass is celebrated, according to the parish website:
Weekdays 9:00, 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 9:30, 11:00, 18:30, 21:00.
The Divine Office is celebrated in this church. The Office of Readings and Lauds are combined at 8:00, the Midday Office is at 16:00 (!) and Vespers is at 19:15.