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Santi Aquila e Priscilla

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Santi Aquila e Priscilla is a late 20th century parish and titular church at Via Pietro Blaserna 113 in the urban area of Marconi in the Portuense quarter, near the river Tiber south-east of the Trastevere train station. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons are here.

The dedication is to SS Aquila and Priscilla.

History Edit

A parish for this rather out-of-the way industrial corner of the Portuense suburbs was set up in 1971. However, providing a proper church took over twenty years -and arguably it would not have been built if there had been any more delay. The new parish is rather small, and the effort would have been more useful in an outer suburb.

The church was designed by Ignazio Brecchia Fratadocchi, and completed in 1992. It was made titular two years later, and so far the only cardinal priest has been Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino.


This church has a perfectly circular plan. This is accentuated on the pavement around its exposed walls by having it laid in concentric stripes of white and grey, rather like gigantic tree rings. However, the edifice is part of a larger parochial and social complex, which is best viewed from the Via Pietro Blasema to the south (the view from round the corner in the Lungotevere Vittorio Gassman is obscured by planted olive trees).

From the south, the church itself is to the right (the building with the curved wall). A two-storey edifice containing ancillary facilities is to its left, which is rather standard late Modernist architecture with white stone walls, a flat roof and a second-storey window strip. However, an unusual detail is that the parapet wall of this building is continued across the roof of the church. This low roof wall does not pass through the centre of the circle of the church's plan, but just in front of it so that the entrance zone forms a large segment. This zone has a blank curved wall clad in large slabs of white stone, and with a large chamfer at the roofline (rather like a Second World War concrete gun emplacement, unfortunately). The church roof is flat.

The entrance is recessed into a three-sided piece cut out of the arc wall, two sides having wide doorways with horizontal strip windows containing stained glass and the third, smaller one to the left having a narrow door with large window above.

The larger altar zone, the other side of the spine wall mentioned, has two lower subsidiary structures attached, the sacristies to the left on a trapezoidal plan and the Blessed Sacrament chapel to the right with a hyperbolic curved frontage. The roof of the altar zone is also flat, except for the central quadrilateral section which is set an angle to the dividing roof wall and runs to the wall behind the altar. This starts with a skylight which projects over the roof of the entrance zone, and its own roof slopes steeply up to behind the altar with strip windows along the side edges. Its own back wall has a curve to it, not a chamfer, and is one with the main church wall there.

The campanile is attached to the other end of the ancillary building just mentioned, and is in the same white stone as the church. It has a triangular plan, with the bells hanging in a void cut out of one angle. An iconic representation of the patron saints has been added recently.

Interior Edit

The entrance doors contains unusual stained glass in an abstract design, having a textured grey background which contrasts with the blue theme in the glass of the window strips above them.

The interior has a flat white ceiling, and walls in orange-yellow. The void created by the sloping section of roof sheds natural light onto the wall behind the high altar. This used to feature a painting of Our Lady Immaculate, clothed with the sun and standing on the moon. However, recently this was replaced by a very impressive neo-Byzantine mural covering the entire wall.

This has two registers, with the main upper one having two themes. That of The Transfiguration of Christ is at the top, where Christ is accompanied by Moses and Elijah. At the bottom the career of Elijah is illustrated in two scenes, his stay on Mount Sinai to the left and his about to ascend to heaven in a chariot of fire in the centre. His young disciple Elisha is to the right in the latter scene. The bottom register shows SS Aquila and Priscilla with St Paul, with a loom for weaving tent fabric to the right (the three were in the same craft of tent-making).

The altar is an impressively curvaceous piece carved from a single block of grey-veined marble.

The Blessed Sacrament chapel has stained glass of an abstract design, mostly in blue, and is located to the far right beyond the altar. The glass here and elsewhere is by Costantino Ruggeri. The tabernacle is a very impressive design based on a monumental polished metal sphere inserted into a cut-out arc in a free-standing black pier.

Access Edit

The church is open:

Weekdays 7:45 to 12:30, 16:00 to 20:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 7:45 to 13:30, 17:00 to 20:00.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated:

Winter weekdays 8:00, 9:00, 18:00;

Winter Sundays 8:00, 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 18:00, 19:00

Summer weekdays 9:30, 19:00;

Summer Sundays 8:00, 9:00, 10:30, 19:00.

There is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Fridays, 9:30 to 12:30 and 16:00 to 18:00.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

"Beweb" web-page

"Larry Amoroma" blog-page

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