Santa Felicita e Figli Martiri is a 21st century parish church at Via Don Giustino Maria Russolillo 37, which is in the suburb of Borgata Fidene, south of where the Via Salaria crosses the Grande Raccordo Anulare (Circonvallazione Settentrionale). This is in the Castel Giubileo zone.
The church's patrons are a Roman mother, Felicity of Rome, and her seven sons, traditionally martyred in the 2nd century and buried in the catacombs of Maximus (Catacombe di Massimo) on the Via Salaria Nova. The revised Roman martyrology (2004) has deleted the sons, and given her an uncertain date.
She may be the Felicity mentioned in the Roman canon of the Mass, usually identified with the famous African martyr (see Perpetua and Felicity).
However, a permanent church was only completed in 2003 because part of the land earmarked for it had been squatted upon by a football academy. The architect was Roberto Panella.
Layout and fabric Edit
The layout is complicated, and is best described together with notes on the fabric.
The edifice has two storeys, a ground-floor crypt with red brick walls and the church proper. The crypt storey has a rectangular plan, and also forms the first storey of a flat-roofed multi-storey block in red brick to the left of the church. The church itself, and the higher storeys of this block, stand on a flat terrace formed from the roof of the crypt.
The ancillary block has the plan of a thin trapezoid, widening towards the back. It is separated from the church by a passageway, which has a pergola roofed in glass towards the far end. This allows covered access from the presbytery to the sacristy.
The church itself has a complicated plan. Its core in the plan is a half-open fan which has an angle of ninety degrees divided into five sectors of fifteen degrees each, the right angle being at the back of the altar and occupied by a tall and prominent campanile. The central three sectors extend further forward than the two side ones, leaving the nave side walls of the church angled. In front is a transverse rectangular portico, and the two outer long sectors join onto this by means of short longitudinal walls.
The back wall of the church, either side of the campanile, is transverse and turns through two right-angled far corners to intersect the two short outermost fan sectors. Here there are two side entrances. This arrangement gives the church a transept flanking the sanctuary.
Behind the far wall are a sacristy to the left, and a ferial chapel to the right.
The frame of the edifice is in reinforced concrete, and the facing is either in high-quality red brick or in large white panel tiles. The latter are used to provide a balustrade for the terrace, and also clad the ends of the transept as well as the exterior radial walls of the fan. The exterior end walls of the fan sectors, the walls joining the fan to the entrance portico and the walls of the ferial chapel and sacristy are in brick. The sacristy is provided with eaves in white panels, but the chapel is not.
As is typical with this architect, the roofing is central to the design. The sectors of the fan are separated by prominent concrete beams, which sweep up in a curve to join the campanile. The roofing of the sectors in between the ribs curves in sympathy, but each sector roof steps upwards twice to accommodate two window slits which throw light on the high altar.
The transept ends also each have a matching upswept roof sector, although the far ends are flat. The sacristy roof is flat, but the chapel roof is also upswept to the campanile in three sectors.
The tall tower campanile is made up of ten thin white concrete piers brought together to form a cylindrical tower with gaps in between. The long gaps below the bell-chamber are filled with glass.
The ends of the piers protrude above the top of the campanile, but are not level. The rear ones are progressively longer than the front ones, evoking the Crown of Thorns.
The entrance façade, which is in brick, is covered by an enormous white-panelled open flat-roofed porch, as high and as wide as the church with rectangular pillars at the corners and two round columns either side of the entrance. In between the columns the porch fascia is cut away to form an arch. There are also four slots in the fascia, two on either side of the arch.
The actual entrance has three separate doors, the middle one larger, set into a outwardly bowed section of the façade within the porch. There is a rectangular window over this. The wall either side of this bowed section is coved, giving an interesting interplay of curves.
The interior shows the same wall surfaces as the outside -red brick or large white concrete panels. However, the dominant design feature is the fan-shaped roof which is in laminated and bent pinewood sweeping up to the lower storey of the campanile. The fan sectors are separated by deep and thin plank rafters, joined by beams and with the spaces in between filled with planks.
The base of the campanile is cut away to form a housing for the tabernacle. The free-standing altar is in front of this, with the font to the right. The transept ends are occupied by two sets of choir seating.
The far wall of the sanctuary is asymmetrical. The right hand one has a wide glazed portal for the ferial chapel, but the left hand one has a set of five vertical trapezoidal windows with their top edges matching the curve of the roof rafter above them.
Mass is celebrated (according to the parish website, summer 2016):
Weekdays 8:30, 18:00;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30, 10:00, 11:30, 15:00 (in Tagalog), 19:00.