Santi Ottavio e Compagni Martiri is a mid 20th century parish church at Via Casal del Marmo 110 in the suburban zone of Ottavia, just west of the train station.
The suburb began in about 1920 as a collection of residences on sub-divided fields next to the old Via Trionfale, the locality then being called La Lucchina. It is recorded that Mass was first celebrated here in a store-shed by one of the priests attached to the local parish church of San Francesco d'Assisi a Monte Mario.
In that year of 1920, the construction work led to the discovery of an underground hypogeum of the early 3rd century, named the Ipogeo dei Ottavi after two occupants named Octavius Felix and his daughter Octavia Paolina.
In 1932, the little suburb had acquired a sufficiently high population of mostly proletarian people for the Canossian Daughters of Charity to establish a convent here. Four sisters took up residence in a little house called Villino Capalti, and the chapel (a room of sixteen square metres) was opened for public Mass in 1933.
The congregation decided to establish their Generalate or congregational headquarters here in 1936, and built a very large convent -the main block has five storeys. It is at Via della Stazione di Ottavia 70. The chapel here, which has no architectural identity, remained the locality's place of worship for the next fourteen years. It apparently is dedicated to Our Lady of Luján, a unique dedication for Rome if so.
The parish was set up in 1950, when the area began to be systematically suburbanised. The suburb was renamed Ottavia after the 3rd century tomb in the same year, and so some thought was given to the dedication of the church. It should be remembered that the church is not actually named after the suburb, nor vice versa.
The mother parish by then was Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario. The church was designed by Francesco Fornari, and completed in the same year.
At first the parish was administered by diocesan clergy. However, in 1958 it was taken over by the Congregazione della Sacra Famiglia di Nazareth which remained in charge until 1998. It is now administered by the Congregation of St Michael the Archangel, a Polish congregation familiarly known as the Michaelites.
There was a re-ordering of the interior in 1977.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church is a very straightforward and rather small building. It has a single nave of three bays, with the parish centre attached to the left hand side wall. This now contains a ferial or weekday chapel, fitted out in 1977.
The right hand wall has a vertical rectangular window high up in each bay, and the first and last bays each have a little apsidal external chapel. The second bay has a side entrance instead.
The sanctuary is made up of a very shallow bay, lower and narrower than the nave, to which is attached a semi-circular apse which is windowless.
The fabric is in brick, which is now rendered in a bright yellow ochre (it used to be in pale green). The roofs are pitched and tiled, with the apse roof slightly lower and separate from the sanctuary bay roof.
A simple campanile is placed longitudinally on top of the far end of the left hand nave wall, extending over the sacristy passage between the sanctuary and parish centre. It is a rendered slab in brick with a single round-headed aperture and a little tiled gable.
The tiled gable of the façade is higher than the nave roof behind it, and crowns a blank wall in which is a very large round-headed recess. This contains the single entrance, with a stone doorcase having a horizontal floating canopy and approached by a flight of steps. Above the canopy is a round window with fenestration in the form of a cross.
The interior matches the exterior in its simplicity, with the walls all in a shade of cream. The nave has three round-headed recesses on each side, the near and far ones on the right leading into chapels.
The sanctuary bay is in the form of a simple triumphal arch without imposts, into which the slightly smaller arch of the apse is fitted.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):
Weekdays 8:00, 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 10:00, 11:30, 18:30.
The Rosary is recited daily at 18:00, before Mass.