Santa Maria della Speranza a Val Melaina is a late 20th century parish and titular church with a postal address at Via Cocco Ortu 19, in the Val Melaina district to the north-west of the suburb of Tufello. The main entrance is on Piazza Antonio Fradeletto.
The parish was erected in 1969 and given into the administration of the Salesians, who run an adjacent hospital.
There was a delay before the church was begun in 1990 to a design by Tommaso Valle of the firm Studio Valle. It was completed in 1995.
The church was made titular in 2001. The present cardinal priest is Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga.
Layout and roof Edit
The church has an impressive post-modernist design. Typically for the style, the plan is complex and rather playful. You need to be aware that there are two nested walls in the structure, the exterior set which you see from the street which is square and the circular one of the actual church within.
Firstly, there is the outer exterior girdle wall on a square plan. This encloses a roof formed of three nested Greek crosses, one within the other and with arms the same length (reaching the girdle wall) but of differing widths. These crosses are themselves on top of a circle, which reveals itself in the final plan as short arcs in the angles of the arms but which is actually the main body of the church.. The elevation of these Greek crosses in forming the shape of the roof is stepped, with the central, narrowest one being the highest. The surfaces of the roof are all flat, and has a spectacular geometric form which can be appreciated in aerial photos. There are eight square skylights, in each of the inner corners of the two lower crosses.
Exterior walls Edit
Each of the four exterior walls has the same design, and is of blank white limestone slabs. The roofline has six steps, rather like a ziggurat, and the central three of these steps correspond to the ends of the elevations of the nested crosses making up the church roof. The other two are false, as behind the walls here are small courtyards occupying the corners of the plan. Each wall has a large portal in its centre. These portals are shaped like a horizontal rectangle with a smaller one on top, mimicking the stepping of the rooflines above. Flanking the large central portal on each side is a pair of smaller portals in the shape of horizontal rectangles.
Within the central portals are small vestibules sheltered by the ends of the cross-roof. In each, to left and right are side portals leading to the spaces in the corners. The circular wall of the church is straight ahead.
The main entrance is to the south, on the Piazza Antonio Fradeletto. A side street entrance is round the corner to the east on the right, on the Via Cocco Ortu. To the left, west, is a third entrance and round what looks like the back of the church to the north is a fourth one with a covered passage leading to ancillary parish accommodation and sacristies.
Fixed to the façade over the main entrance portal is a bronze statue of the Madonna and Child. This entrance has a coved free-standing rectangular pylon inserted into the void in front of the doorways. This is clad in stone slabs, and has a vertical rectangular portal in it.
There is a matching campanile, attached to the corner of the church to the right of the main entrance. It is a square white tower, not very tall, with a large cuboidal void at the top parallel to the north-south axis of the church and opening out on two opposite sides only. This contains the bells. All four faces, those with the void and those without, have a grid of attached metal bars forming two vertical rectangles.
You should be expecting a circular church when you enter, but the big surprise is the orientation. The major axis does not pass through the main entrance, as you might expect, but is on a diagonal of the square running south-west to the altar in the north-east. The sanctuary is a lenticular platform with the congregational seating facing it in a fan-shaped layout. The baptismal font is to the right of the sanctuary.
The roof and wall are in white, with the former having a spectacular arrangement of deep concrete vanes replicating the nested cross structure already noted for the exterior. The wall has a series of shallow rectangular pilasters in polished travertine limestone, which are a bit more than half the height of the wall and do not support anything. At the top each has a pseudo-capital of two slabs, one vertical and one sticking out above at an upward angle.
The set of Stations of the Cross in polychrome relief is by Hermann Josef Runggaldier.
The parish seems to have had its Mass schedule revised recently, and this varies with the seasons anyway. See the home page of the parish website here.