Santissimo Crocifisso a Bravetta is a 20th century Fascist-era parish church at Via di Bravetta 332, in the suburb of Bravetta which is part of the Gianicolense suburban district. It is just south-west of the Villa Doria Pamphilj.
The dedication is to the Holy Cross (strictly speaking, the Crucifix).
The parish was established in 1937, and put into the administration of the Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate.
The church was designed by Tullio Rossi and built in the same year, when the area was still mostly rural. It still has areas which have not been built on, and is one of the more pleasant of Rome's suburbs.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church has a basilical layout, having a central nave and side aisles. The entrance is occupied by an external narthex, after which comes the nave with five bays. There follows the sanctuary with one bay, flanked by a pair of side chapels entered through the ends of the nave aisles.
The narthex is flanked by a tower campanile to the left, and a baptistery to the right which is structurally a forward extension of the right hand side aisle.
A large three-storey flat-roofed convent block abuts the left hand side aisle, although it is structurally a separate edifice.
The edifice is in reinforced concrete and brick, rendered in a pale buttercup yellow. The aisle side walls are blank, but the central nave walls have five horizontal rectangular windows in each side with a further pair in the sanctuary bay.
The far wall of the sanctuary has a gigantic shallow blind arch, entirely unembellished and rendered within in dull red.
To the left of the narthex is the best feature the church, a playfully decorated tower campanile attached to the left narthex wall. It is a rectangular tower with a cap which is a miniature pitched and hipped tiled roof with a slight overhang. The bells are set in two rectangular apertures running through the top. The street frontage is recessed below these apertures all the way to the ground, and while the rest of this frontage is painted the same yellow as the church these panels are in dull red. Nice.
The church is set back from the street, and faces onto a little courtyard with shrubs and two mature conifers.
The simple façade, rendered in the same buttercup yellow as the rest of the church, has as its only feature a round window with a double brick frame, one ring of bricks recessed within the other. The fenestration displays a Greek cross on a circle.
There is an enclosed external narthex with a singly pitched tiled roof and a large entrance portal with the same style of brick framing as the window. Within this, below the horizontal brick lintel, is inserted a set of little white pilasters looking rather like a row of piano keys and which end below at a diamond-shaped lozenge containing a mosaic. This means that the entrance doorway has a very odd shape, with a reverse gable at the top.
The interior is a typical, rather stark Rossi composition in pale grey with a dado in polished travertine limestone.
The aisles are separated from the central nave by arcades, the archivolts of which are entirely undecorated. These are supported by columns in green mosaic tiling giving a speckled effect and having thin tile imposts in yellow. Above each column is an interesting ambient light fitting comprising an upwardly facing light in a U-shaped bracket and a floating mirror with a slight upward S-curve. Unfortunately, these have been found inadequate and more modern light fittings have been installed which are rather intrusive.
The baptistery provided when the church was built still seems to function -the recent liturgical tendency in other re-fitted churches has been to transfer the font to near the sanctuary.
The font is an attractive composition comprising a hexagonal bowl in polished honey-coloured limestone with a white marble lining. It stands on a cross-shaped plinth in pale grey travertine.
There are interesting mosaic panels in here. A multi-coloured sunburst glory is above a rather Celtic-looking cross morphing into an olive tree, having a roundel featuring the Lamb of God and standing in water with fishes. This pair of panels is flanked by two showing angels accompanying child neophytes, with epigraphs from the rite of baptism. There is a crowning epigraph frieze over the mosaic panels, reading Aqua regenerans, unda purificans ("The water giving rebirth, the purifying flood").
The re-ordered sanctuary has had the altar brought out of the sanctuary bay and into the last bay of the nave. The far wall of the sanctuary is now occupied by the seating of the ministers, the main three chairs in limestone being flanked by bench seating in green mosaic tiling. The back of the latter sweeps up and behind the main chairs in a curve, and is edged in yellow with more yellow in beading on the panels below the bench seating. The intention was obviously to echo the arcade columns.
Above, the far wall of the sanctuary has an enormous, ghostly round-headed panel in white which frames a very large hanging crucifix.
To the right of the altar is a large majolica statue of Our Lady. The iconography is taken from the Ascension -she is watching Christ ascending into heaven.
Side chapels Edit
There is a pair of side chapels flanking the sanctuary, each entered through a round-headed portal.
The chapel on the right is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, and contains a large polychrome painted Pietà. This is very realistic, and is of good quality. Behind are two windows with etched glass depicting date palms.
The chapel on the left is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and is smaller than Our Lady's chapel. The tabernacle is set into the left hand side of an incurved white screen with a recessed cross in blue and yellow square mosaic tiles. The tabernacle door is a very good piece of cloisonné metalwork, enamel on copper, and depicts the Last Supper with symbols of the Evangelists. To the left is a lunette window with good modern stained glass in an abstract pattern
According to the parish website, the church is open:
Daily 7:15 to 13:30, 16:30 to 20:00.
According to the parish website, Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays 8:00, 18:30 (19:00 in summer);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 9:00 (not July, August), 10:30, 12:00 (not July, August), 18:30 (19:00 in summer).
The Divine Office of Lauds is celebrated on weekdays at 7:40.
The Rosary is said daily at 18:00 (18:30 in summer).