Natività di Maria a Bravetta is a very late 20th century parish church at Via di Bravetta 633, in the Gianicolense suburban zone -the locality is called Bravetta.
The dedication is to the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The parish was set up in 1981, and administered from the start by the Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception. The territory was initially taken from the older parishes of Santissimo Crocifisso a Bravetta and San Girolamo a Corviale.
There were problems with finding suitable premises both for worship and for social activities until the permanent church was completed in 2000. Several local convents allowed their chapels to be used, but the situation was unsatisfactory until the dedicated parish complex was finally built. (There are a surprising number of convents in the vicinity.)
The chapels mentioned in the parish website are as follows (not all of these are in the present parish territory):
- "Cappellina dell'Immacolata". This was the first place of worship. If it's the same as the convent chapel of the Suore Oblate della Sacra Famiglia, then it is a room in their convent at Via dei Carraresi 3. The congregation is local, having been founded at Rome in 1950.
- Cappella delle Suore Nostra Signora della Compassione. This is another room in a convent, at Via Bravetta 587, just down the road from the church. It remains as a public Mass centre (see below).
- Cappella delle Figlie di San Giuseppe di Genoni. This belongs to the Roman convent of the Figlie di San Giuseppe di Genoni, a sisterhood founded in Sardinia in 1888. It has an architectural identity.
- Cappella dei Concezionisti. This belongs to the Figli dell'Immacolata Concezione, and also has an architectural identity although it lacks a civic presence.
The project for a permanent church was initiated in 1995, to a design by Alberto Costantini and Massimiliano Cotti. The actual work was carried out from 1998 to 2000, under the supervision of Roberto Panella.
The church forms a single edifice with the parish offices and ancillary accommodation, which has the plan of a longitudinal rectangle. The church proper occupies the front half of this, a transverse rectangle. Within the transverse rectangle is a smaller rectangle, longitudinal on the major axis, which is the actual worshipping area. The rest of the transverse rectangle is taken up by two enormous open loggias, with the ferial chapel tucked under the right hand one.
Into the smaller rectangle in the plan is inserted a truncated isosceles triangle with the truncated point behind the altar and the major axis occupying the axis of symmetry. This triangle provides the very distinctive roofing arrangements of the church. The truncation is occupied by a segmental apse behind the sanctuary.
The church has a reinforced concrete frame, with much use of high-quality brown brick as infill walls and cladding.
The design of the church is dominated by the roof. The central triangle is occupied by a roof in the shape of a segment of a truncated cone, with the narrow end at the back. This is in shiny metal sheeting. The rest of the church is covered by a flat concrete roof with a brick parapet, which shelters two large loggias. The actual walls of the church and its ferial chapel in the right hand loggia are in brick. The loggias are supported by six massive concrete columns on each side, clad in brick. The underside of the roof as seen from the loggias is raw concrete coffered in squares.
The segmental apse is in concrete. It backs onto a little enclosed courtyard, surrounded by the ancillary block which has two storeys, a flat roof lower than that of the church and a single storey along its back wall with a terrace.
The church has a tower campanile attached to its near left hand side wall, and piercing the flat roof. It is triangular, and has an enormous rectangular aperture on each face which rises from the roof almost to the top. Each of these apertures is partly glazed, with the mullions in each forming a cross. The top of the tower is flat, and slopes down from the right hand angle.
The church is up a long straight driveway, flanked by ornamental shrubs. It is well away from the road, and still surrounded by countryside.
The façade is dominated by an enormous rainbow arch in white concrete, which fits on the projecting near end of the central conical roof and cuts through the brick parapet of the flat roof before sweeping to the ground on either side of the entrance. The segmental space between the parapet and the top of the arch is filled with a large stained glass window. The parapet is broken by a gap immediately below the top of the arch, and this is filled by a downwards extension of the window. The stained glass design involves a cross standing in the gap, surrounded by the sky.
The entrance doors are in a large projecting square frame in white concrete, fitted underneath the parapet. A strip of stained glass runs round all three sides, and beyond these to left and right are identical zones of blank brick wall. The ends of the arch are open, forming portals into the side loggias.
The façade is fronted by a small piazza, which unusually is below the level of the access driveway and has a set of four steps going down. This has the same width as the church, with short portions at the ends angling inwards. A wheelchair ramp breaks the steps at the middle. The piazza is paved in brick with a large cross pattern.
The church interior is dominated by the conical roof, which is in laminated and varnished timber with steam-curved transverse beams.
The side walls are in the same brown brick as the outside, and the flat side ceilings and apse are in white concrete. The former has square coffers.
The ferial chapel is accessed via the right.
The apse has three painted panels overall depicting The Resurrection. The altar has the heraldry of the Canons on the frontal, featuring the Immaculate Conception.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):
Weekdays 7:30 (not July and August), 18:30 (19:00 from March to October);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, 10:45, 12:15 (not July and August), 18:30 (19:00 from March to October).
External Mass centres Edit
The parish has two external Mass centres:
Cappella delle Suore Nostra Signora della Compassione:-
The Sœurs de Notre-Dame de la Compassion is a French sisterhood, founded at Marseille in 1843. Their convent at Via di Bravetta 587 is their Roman procura or base -their headquarters remains at Marseille. The sisters here were very helpful to the parish in its infancy.
The convent is an ugly and uninteresting mid-20th century block, and the chapel has no separate architectural identity.
Mass is celebrated publicly at 10:00 on Sundays and Solemnities, despite the parish church being very close by.