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Santi Elisabetta e Zaccaria is a 21st century parish church at Via Sulbiate 24 in the suburb of Valle Muricana, west of the Via Flaminia and north of the Grande Raccordo Anulare(Circonvallazione Settentrionale). This is in the Prima Porta zone. Pictures of the church on Wikimedia Commons have been deleted.
The church should not be confused with Sant’Elisabetta a Valle Muricane, which is a little rural chapel some distance to the south-west and which was the first place of worship hereabouts.
Valle Muricane and its neighbouring suburb of Monte Pietra Pertusa to the north are a long way from the city centre, and are surrounded by open countryside. They only exist because of crooked landowners sub-dividing fields for illegal house-building in 1975. This was surprisingly successful, with three hundred families settling here in three years. A temporary church attached to the parish of Sant'Alfonso de'Liguori a Labaro was opened in Via Lomazzo in 1978, apparently taking over someone's garage.
The Suore Francescane dell'Immacolata set up a community here in the same year, the Comunità di San Francesco. This survived until 1993, and was instrumental in building up the parish after it was established in 1985. Unfortunately a lack of vocations meant the closure of the convent, which was a setback.
The temporary church was restored in 1995 after falling into serious disrepair. This was a poor management decision, because a project to build a permanent church was initiated soon after and the foundation was laid in 2007.
The new edifice was designed by Giuliano Panieri, and opened in 2009. It is his first church in Rome, so far.
This is a large, high-quality building of 500 square metres, based on a plan of an equilateral triangle with the point behind the altar truncated.
The church is part of a larger social and parochial complex, which is attached to its right hand side. A long two-storey block abutting the church's right hand wall is extended forwards, and is itself abutted by two identically sized single-storey units. One of these is at the front, and helps to define a large triangular piazza in front of the church. The other is at the back. The two-storey block includes a ferial chapel at its far end.
The exterior walls of the complex entirely in red brick, and the roofs are flat with parapets.
The monumental façade, one side of the triangle, is rather jagged since it has a pair of triangular bastions in blank brickwork flanking the entrance and running from ground to roofline. The entrance doors themselves comprise a work of art, having a motif of converging jagged shards in bronze on an orange background. There is a stained glass window shaped like a Latin cross above the entrance. Either side of the bastions are two other protrusions, wide and trapezoidal. Each has two sets of four vertical strip windows, one set above the other and all the windows separated by brickwork. The upper set has white panels running from windows to roofline.
The side walls have a similar design, except that they are flat and each has a set of eleven longer windows under the roofline. The church is built over a crypt containing rooms for catechetical lectures, and another set of eleven windows lights this in each side wall. There is a pair of two vertical strip windows, one above the other, flanking the altar, and the altar itself is lit by a hexagonal skylight.
A tall detached campanile is placed immediately behind the altar wall, and dominates the frontage from behind the church. In plan it is the truncated corner of the triangle moved out, with two blank brick faces rising to a large Latin cross each, inset in white. These are not the soundholes, since the bells are below. The third face of the campanile, facing the altar wall, has a wall of horizontal metal slats and contains a large rectangular soundhole.
The large triangular piazza in front of the church, actually the same size as the church's floorplan, is attractively laid in polychrome blocks of white, slate grey and greenish-grey. The last colour dominates, and provides an enjoyable contrast to the red brick walls.
The interior is laid out in a fan-shape, with the seating facing the altar. The ferial chapel is entered through a wide rectangular portal to the right, which has a clear glass screen.
The interior decoration is simple to the point of being stark, and is all in white. However, a contrast is offered by the floors. The sanctuary floor, raised on three steps, is in black marble while the polished nave floor is in pale brown with lines in darker brown forming right-angled triangles tessellated as squares.
A large traditional crucifix is on the wall behind the altar, with a bronzed corpus. The bath-shaped stone altar is lit by a deep hexagonal skylight, and to the right of it is a large free-standing polychrome statue of The Assumption of Our Lady.
The interior is dominated by the roof, which is in varnished pine with very deep plank beams forming tessellated equilateral triangles. The effect is impressive -very Trinitarian.
The ferial chapel contains the Blessed Sacrament, which is housed in a tabernacle in a stylised form of The Tree of Life.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 9:00, 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 9:00, 10:30, 18:30 (in summer, 9:00 and 19:00).