Gesù Divino Lavaratore is a mid 20th century parish and titular church at Via Oderisi da Gubbio 16 in the Portuense quarter, just south of Trastevere train station. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here.

Name Edit

The dedication is to Jesus Christ as a manual worker (the context is his early life in Nazareth). The motivation for the dedication was the presence of several large factories locally, forming one of the most notable industrial estates in Rome in the mid 20th century.

History Edit

The parish here was founded in 1955, and construction of the new church began in 1957. It was designed by Raffaele Fagnoni, and completed structurally in 1960. The interior was finished in the following year.

The church was made titular in 1969, and the present cardinal priest is Christoph Schönborn.


The church is often described as circular, but is actually oval or egg-shaped with the pointed end at the altar.

The roof forms a shallow saucer dome, around which the margin of the roof slopes inwards to a gully forming the edge of the dome. The blank external wall is in yellow travertine limestone ashlar, enlivened only by two narrow white string courses running all the way round. In the wall are the exposed outer faces of the concrete piers supporting the dome on the inside; there are fourteen of these piers in total.

Between the top of the wall and the roof is a tall strip of window in clear glass, and this also runs all the way round. It is recessed, and unusually in front of it the wall has a row of stone crosses on its top, like battlements. The roof eaves project so as to create the dome margin mentioned above.

Right in front of the entrance is a massive free-standing campanile like a truncated factory chimney (the resemblance seems to have been deliberate), with three thin white string courses around its base and an open bell-chamber at the top made up of concrete struts arranged in a closely-packed zig-zag. The campanile doubles up as the entrance portal, and you pass through its base to get to the main entrance. Above the entrance path is an elevated walkway also connecting church and campanile.


The interior is an oval open space with the concrete roof-vault exposed, the shuttering marks being visible. There are fourteen radial concrete slab piers projecting from the wall, and these are revetted in stone. Each of these supports a second slab, unrevetted and shaped vaguely like an arrowhead, and these are in front of the window strip below the roof. A walkway runs round the church at the level of the lower edge of the window strip, passing through these springer slabs by means of little openings. The springer slabs each support either one or two concrete ribs, which interact attractively in the vault in a stellate pattern.

The strip of window below the roof is of clear glass (with some blue tints at the top), and provides the natural light in the interior.

The side zones of the church are divided by the slab piers into fourteen recesses, the far one of which contained the original high altar. The baptistry is the first recess on the left, and others are side chapels.

The sanctuary occupies the far three recesses of the wall, and the segment in front of them. It is approached by a steep staircase of seven steps with pink risers, and now has a free-standing altar. The tabernacle for the Blessed Sacrament is where the old altar used to be, and is an attractive modern work in bronze and polychrome marble. Above, a huge panel in gold tiles reaches to the roof and bears a wooden crucifix.

The church's organ occupies balconies either side of the crucifix, and in the flanking recesses. It sports a row of organ pipes on view, all the same size and so obviously fake.

Liturgy Edit

This is a lively parish.

Mass is celebrated (November 2017):

Weekdays 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 18:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 11:30, 18:00, 19:00.

Divine Office: Lauds 8:30, Vespers 18:30.

Rosary: 17:30.

In "Summer", from 9 June to 13 September, these schedules are revised.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Beweb article

Roman Despatches blog

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