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Santi Angeli Custodi

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Santi Angeli Custodi is an early 20th century parish and titular church with a postal address at Via delle Alpi Apuane 1, which is located just east of where the Via Nomentana Nuova crosses the Aniene river by the Ponte Tazio. This is in the Monte Sacro quarter. The main entrance of the church is on the Piazza Sempione. A picture of the church on Wikimedia Commons is here. An English Wikipedia page is here.

Name Edit

The dedication is to the Guardian Angels, in memory of the demolished church of Angelo Custode on what is now the Via del Tritone.

Note that this church is dedicated to the Guardian Angels in general (the doctrine is that each human being has one), whereas the demolished church was dedicated to the one Guardian Angel (yours). Some of the sources online do not note this distinction.

The cardinalate title is Santi Angeli Custodi a Città Giardino.

HistoryEdit

The project to provide a parish church for a new suburb of the city, the Città Giardino, was authorized in 1922 by Pope Benedict XV. The suburb was being proposed by the Consorzio Città Giardino Aniene, itself inspired by the so-called Garden City Movement. This promoted a system of utopian planned urban development, based on ideas published in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in England. It is thought that the Città Giardino here was the first example of a "garden city" in Italy.

The layout of the suburb, and many of its buildings including the church, were designed by Gustavo Giovannoni. He began work on the church in 1924, and (impressively) completed it in the following year.

Pope Pius XI personally put up a large sum of money (one million lire when the lire was worth something) towards the cost. On 2 October 1925 he formally established the new parish, and entrusted it in perpetuity to the Order of Clerics Regular Minor (CRM) of St. Francesco Caracciolo, also known as the Padri Caracciolini or the Adorno Fathers. On 8 December the church was consecrated. The dedication was to the Guardian Angels because of the pope's particular devotion to them, and in memory of the demolished church of Angelo Custode.

The Generalate or international headquarters of the CRM was established in the church's convent, where it remains. However, the higher public profile of the CRM at Rome is at their more famous church of San Lorenzo in Lucina.

The church was made titular by Pope Paul VI in 1965, and the first cardinal deacon was Alfredo Pacini, appointed in 1967. The present titular is Agostino Cacciavillan, who was created cardinal in 2001 and is cardinal priest pro hac vice.

The parish priest is Fr Mario Aceto CRM.

ExteriorEdit

LayoutEdit

The church is built in a derivative Neo-Classical style, inspired by the Italian Renaissance. The result is hardly according to Classical canons, but is enjoyably quirky.

The plan is based on a double Latin cross. That is, the nave has side altars, but also has a structural transept halfway along it the ends of which do not project beyond the outer walls. This contains a pair of side chapels.

There is a central dome on a square crossing, and the main arms of the Latin cross are taken up by two large side apses at the ends of the second transept. Beyond there is a short presbyterium, with an external segmental apse.

FabricEdit

The exterior walls are rendered in orange, with architectural elements in yellowish-pink brick and details in travertine limestone. In general the brickwork is in the form of vertical pilasters, especially at the external corners of the crossing and the far corners of the sanctuary.

The roofs are pitched and tiled, and have a complicated layout. The subsidiary transept roofs have their own pitches perpendicular to the nave roof, and each corner of the crossing has its own little pitched roof.

The church has ancillary buildings attached to both sides of the frontage. From the piazza, you can see the ends of the subsidiary transept rising above these; each one has a large window in the shape of half an octagon, and above this is an oculus set in a triangular pediment with a broken cornice. This latter is supported by a pair of brick (vaguely) Doric pilasters. This pilaster and pediment motif recurs in the design, as does the half-octagon.

The apsidal ends of the main transept each have three large oculi separated by brick pilasters. They have stone frames, and are connected by a string course that runs over the pilasters.

The low, two-storey campanile sits on top of the right hand ancillary building, and peeps out from behind the façade. It is of pink brick, and is formed of two open arches in the first storey and one in the second. These are not actually proper arches, as their tops replicate the half-octagon motif. The pair of openings are recessed into two rectangular panels, while the single opening above has sweeping curves on either side. There are cornices to the storeys, and a metal curlicue finial.

DomeEdit

The dome is fun. The drum has a cog-wheel plan, with eight little aedicules having their own roof pitches. Each aedicule repeats the Doric pilasters with broken pediment motif, and frames an blank rendered panel with (again) a half-octagon top. The sides of the pediments follow the gable lines of the little roofs. The dome itself is a very shallow tiled saucer with eight pitches, supporting a tall stone lantern in the form of a round temple with a lead cupola.

FaçadeEdit

The church sits on a commodious crypt, which actually projects to each side beyond the walls of the church. As a result, the façade is preceded by a steep and monumental staircase with solid balustrades. These balustrades run horizontally to each side of the entrance patio, and beneath them you can see a row of three windows into the crypt on each side of the staircase.

The actual church frontage has three vertical zones. In the centre is the doorway, which has a propylaeum in travertine. This has a pair of ribbed Composite columns in the round with swagged capitals, supporting a triangular pediment raised on plinths. Unusually, this pediment has a projecting stone canopy that looks like part of a sunshade with dangling tassels, and this gives the propylaeum the look of a baldacchino.

Above this is a large half-octagon window sitting on an equally large tablet on corbels bearing a dedicatory inscription. This window has geometrically patterned mullions. The fenestration is divided into three by a pair of pilasters which bear identical relief carvings of flaming urns with tassels.

The two vertical zones on either side are in pink brick, and each has a pair of gigantic blank pilasters that are joined at the top by a deep horizontal brick architrave to form an enormous frame to the façade. In the centre of this architrave is the coat-of-arms of the founding pope. Above the archtitrave is a row of metopes with alternate patterns of nested squares and paired scrolls. Above that in turn is a dentillate cornice and a crowning triangular pediment with a recessed tympanum. This is in blank brick; was a sculpture planned for it? The outer corners of the pediment have a pair of flaming lamps, each having five spouts.

To each side of the main frontage is a short screen wall which curves forward to a gigantic Doric pilaster. These pilasters support a pair of obelisk finials. In between the pilaster capitals a stone entablature runs across the entire façade and behind the inscription tablet. Oddly, the four gigantic brick pilasters are laid over this entablature which gives a basketweave effect.

In the Piazza Sempione outside the church is a statue of the Immaculate Conception by Gino Giammei, executed in 1949.

InteriorEdit

There is a single nave with side chapels.

The dome is decorated with frescoes by Aronne del Vecchio, painted in 1961. The motif is The Angels in Paradise, with the Most Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin. The pendentives have depictions of The Evangelists.

The altarpiece over the high altar is a copy of St Michael the Archangel by Guercino at San Pietro in Vaticano.

On the right side is the Chapel of the Most Holy Crucifix (Santissimo Crocifisso). However, the plaster crucifix that gave the chapel its name has been moved to the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, where the ç encourage perpetual adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist.

At the doorway to the sacristy is a large painting of The Deposition by Aronne del Vecchio.

On the left is the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy (Madonna delle Misericordia), with a statue of her from 1925.

By the side entrance is another painting by del Vecchio, executed in 1962, of The Birth of the Saviour.

In the Chapel of St Francis Caracciolo is a painting by Romano Coradetti depicting Saints in Adoration of the Blessed Eucharist.

AccessEdit

The church is open:

Daily 6:00 to 13:00, 16:00 to 21:00.

There are many buses. Two useful routes are 36 from Termini, and 60 from Piramide via Colosseo and Piazza Venezia.

LiturgyEdit

There is a generous provision of Masses. Mass times are:

Weekdays 7:00, 8:00*, 9:00, 10:00*, 16:30*, 19:00.

Sundays 7:00, 8:00*, 9:00, 10:00, 12:00*, 18:00*, 19:30.

[*] These Masses are not said in July and August. Obviously the parishioners prefer to sit on the beach in these months, and leave the city to the tourists.

Lauds and Vespers are celebrated in this church, the former at 7:35 and the latter at 16:00 (Monday to Friday). The Rosary is said every day at 12:00 and 18:30.

You will find a priest to hear your confession for the entire period when the church is open -this is becoming unusual among Roman churches.

The feast of St Francis Caracciolo is solemnly celebrated on 4 June. The Guardian Angels are celebrated on 2 October. The Madonna of Mercy is the patron of this district of the city, and she is celebrated with a festival at the end of May.

There is a daily Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, as the Caracciolini have had the privilege of perpetual adoration since their foundation. Please observe silence in the church, and do not disturb the adoration. The times are:

Daily 10:30 to 12:30, 16:30 to 19:00 (19:30 Sunday).

On Thursday from 18:00 to 19:00 the adoration is congregational, and also on Sunday from 18:45 to 19:30.

External linksEdit

(The church's profile online is not very good.)

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

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