Santo Spirito al Castel di Guido is a 19th century parish church at Piazza Castel di Guido 8, in the old rural hamlet of Castel di Guido north of the Via Aurelia in the far west of the municipal area. This locality gives its name to the eponymous suburban zone.
The dedication is to the Holy Spirit.
This church is in the municipality of Rome, but belongs to the diocese of Porto Santa Rufina.
The locality used to have an ancient Roman town called Lorium, by tradition where Sant'Antonio Abate del Casale della Bottaccia now is. The town itself has not been located, but several palatial villas and many tombs have been excavated around here -there is a mausoleum under the church dating to around the year 300. The ancient Via Aurelia passed nearby.
By tradition, the name Guido refers to Duke Guy I of Spoleto, instrumental in the eventual defeat of Muslim forces taking part in the Arab raid on Rome in 846. However, there is no documentary evidence for this.
The first mention of a Castrum quod cognominatur de Guido is from 1073, when the property was deeded to the monastery of San Gregorio Magno al Celio. This kept possession of the freehold for several centuries, although several noble families held the tenancy.
The first mention of a church is in a papal bull of 1249: Castrum Guidonis et ecclesiam Sanctae Mariae castri eiusdem. So, back then the church here was dedicated to Our Lady. It is unknown as to when it was founded, but the monastery of San Gregorio probably did so in the early 12th century.
In 1543 the monastery finally sold the freehold to the Apostolic Camera (the papal treasury), which passed the estate on to the Ospedale di Santo Spirito in 1573. The hospital directly managed the property until at least the middle of the 17th century, when it was farmed out again.
The ancestor of the present church building was erected in the early 17th century, using a circular late antique mausoleum as a foundation crypt. (It seems unclear where the previous church of Santa Maria was.) The new dedication of the Holy Spirit was, of course, because of the name of the owning institution.
After the estate had become run down and the condition of the rural peasantry bad, Pope Gregory XVI had the farmstead rebuilt in 1841. This included the church, resulting in the present building.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church has a cylindrical exterior, with a tiled roof pitched in eight triangular sections and having slightly overhanging eaves. There is no central lantern.
There is a two-storey priests' house abutting on the left, and rather irregularly built one-storey ancillary parish accommodation on the right. A low sacristy wing on a trapezoidal plan abuts the back, and has an enclosed corridor connecting it to the priests' house and wrapping round the curve of the church.
The exposed walls are rendered in yellow, much of which colour has weathered away. A blind pilaster below each roof sector boundary runs up and melds with a simple band string course running round the exterior somewhat below the roofline.
A little campanile or bell-cote sits at the roofline of the near left hand side sector. It has a tall round-headed aperture, enough for two bells, and a gabled top.
In front of the church is an elevated enclosure, which is accessed by a flight of brick stairs and surrounded by modern steel railings with brick piers. On the far side of this is another flight of brick stairs leading to a very shallow entrance patio.
The frontage of the church is occupied by a large loggia which is structurally separate and has a transverse rectangular plan. The single-pitched and tiled roof has a hip at each end, and runs up to just under the main church roof. The front sector of the latter is cut across in a very shallow segment here.
In contrast with the main body of the church, the loggia has been recently repainted in pale yellow with architectural details in white. There is a deep entablature below the roofline, supported by two pairs of Doric pilasters. In between the inner two pilasters is fitted the triple portal, which is in the form of a a central arched aperture flanked by a pair of trabeations (horizontal bits), the design being called a serliana. The three apertures are separated by a pair of columns with tile imposts or abaci instead of capitals, which support the arch archivolt, and the trabeations end in a pair of semi-columns in the same style.
The single door, which has a molded door-case, is topped by a circular fresco depicting The Annunciataion.
The interior is very small, and (unexpectedly) is not circular, but octagonal. A double Doric pilaster in white is fitted into each of the angles, and these stand on a dado of travertine limestone slabs. Otherwise the walls are in a very pale tan.
The floor is in red terracotta tiles, some laid on edge, with a large stone Maltese cross set into its centre.
A pair of low apsidal niche chapels with slightly curved tops occupy the thickness of the wall in the near diagonal sides. These now do not contain altars.
The sanctuary has an altarpiece depicting Pentecost, with a yellow Siena marble frame on a black marble background. The same black stone is used to frame a tympanum at the top, which contains a Baroque plaque declaring the altar to be privileged for indulgences on 10 September. The plaque is also black, but the tympanum background is in a pale green.
The church crypt is actually the lower part of an early 4th century circular brick mausoleum, which is well preserved.
The patio in front of the church is actually over a transverse entrance corridor, from an entrance over to the left. This corridor is in two sections, a wider one in front of the priests' house and a narrower one under the present church portico. The latter has three arcosolia (tomb niches) in its near wall.
From the narrower corridor, the mausoleum entrance accesses a ring-shaped space surrounding a thick brick column which once supported a vault. This annular area has five chambers opening off it, regular spaced on a hexagonal plan. These chambers also contain arcosolia, three each in the near two, two each in the middle two and only one in the far chamber.
The mausoleum is not in the care of the parish, but is under the authority of the city's Sovraintendenza Archeologica from whom prior permission is needed to visit.
The parish lacks a website.
According to the DIocese, Mass on Sundays and Solemnities is at 18:30 (vigil), 9:00 and 10:00.