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Santi Martiri dell'Uganda a Poggio Ameno

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Santi Martiri dell'Uganda a Poggio Ameno is a late 20th century parish and titular church at Via Adolfo Ravà 31 in the suburb of Poggio Ameno, which is on the south-east edge of Garbatella in the Ardeatino quarter.

The dedication is to SS Charles Lwanga and Companions.

History Edit

This is a poverty-stricken and badly planned area. The parish was founded in 1970 and a new church immediately proposed, but the worshippers had to make do with shop premises for several years. This was because there was a struggle to find a site to build the church, and there was much opposition to the use of one of the few open spaces in the suburb (much of the opposition was actually ideological).

The original design was by Giuseppe Vaccaro, but unfortunately he died in 1970 and architectural supervision was then given by Ennio Canino. The engineer in charge was Gualtiero Gualtieri.

The edifice was actually begun in 1973, but the problems mentioned delayed progress and it was only finally consecrated in 1980.

The church was made titular in 1988, and the present cardinal priest is Christian Wiyghan Tumi.

Exterior Edit

This is a low one-storey building, with almost no civic presence. It hides behind a hedged fence and mature pine trees on a corner site (the potential loss of some of the trees was a factor in the protests against its construction).

The plan is that of an irregular star or holly leaf, and the walls follow inward arcs on the plan between its points. The fabric is in reinforced concrete, with a concrete roof covered in red composition

The walls are large rectangular panels separated by narrow pilaster-panels outlined by vertical grooves, which stand on plinths formed of three little horizontal steps.

There is a window-strip under most of the rooflines, of differing depths. The roof is not quite flat, but has a low rise to a central lantern which is joined to the wall behind the altar by a skylight strip. There are deep overhanging eaves all the way round, with the roof angling back acutely in a set of small concrete steps below the roofline.

The walls are non-supporting, as the roof is held up by free-standing concrete piers.

The entrance has a flat floating canopy, with an incurved front edge. The fabric makes no attempt to be attractive, but the pavement immediately in front is laid in concentric circles of light and dark grey.

Near the eastern end of the church (which is aligned roughly north to south) is a free-standing cylindrical concrete column with a wire cross on top. The cross is one of the few public indications that there is actually a church here, but a vigorous pine tree has put its branches around it in the thirty-five years since erection.

Interior Edit

The interior walls have the same slab-and-pilaster appearance as the walls outside. Most of the glass below the roof is clear, but there is some stained glass -notably behind the altar, where there is a semi-abstract red cross on a blue background.

The impressive concrete roof has a series of shallow concentric steps round the keyhole arrangement of the central lantern and its associated skylight strip running to the wall behind the altar where it meets the stained glass window mentioned. The roof is supported by free-standing square piers clad in steel sheet.

Access Edit

This is one of the few churches in Rome, so far, to have abandoned the traditional lunchtime closure in response to the realities of modern life.

It is open 7:00 to 20:00 daily.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated:

Weekdays 7:30 (not July or August), 9:00, 19:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 9:00, 10:30, 12:00, 19:00.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

Beweb web-page

Amoroma blog page

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