San Giosafat al Gianicolo is a 20th century Oriental Catholic and Ukrainian national church at Passeggiata del Gianicolo 7 in Trastevere, on the Janiculum hill north of the Garibaldi monument. It is on the second of the hair-pin bends going north, and is a familar landmark there.
The dedication is to St Josaphat Kuntsevych.
The church is one of the three national churches of the Ukraine in Rome, and belongs to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. This is the Ukrainian Byzantine-rite branch of the Catholic Church. The officiating clergy belong to the eparchy (roughly equivalent to an archdiocese) of Lviv.
It is not often realized, even by Catholics, that the Catholic Church has nine different Eastern rites all of which are of the same dignity as the Latin rite and which are in full communion with the Holy Father. The Byzantine rite is one of these, and in the Catholic church is further divided into fourteen so-called Particular Churches. The majority (not all) have the word "Greek" in their title, although this has nothing to do with the modern Greek nationality. The Ukrainian language group is one of these fourteen.
(Those who know something about this subject should be aware of recent changes arising from the collapse of Communism. Also, the Byzantine rite is now viewed as a single rite like the Roman one, with language groups, instead of several different rites each with its own language. The latter interpretation came about in order to protect the status of Latin in the Roman rite -"one rite, one language"- and is now obsolete.)
In 1896, Pope Leo XIII implemented his scheme for a new Ukrainian-rite seminary, which was called the "Ruthenian Pontifical College" when it was founded and which was given charge of the monastery of Santi Sergio e Bacco. However, the convent was too small for the purpose and a scheme for building a new college and church was put in place after the First World War. Construction began in 1929 and was finished in 1932, the architect being Giuseppe Momo.
The seminary has operated here ever since, and was the major one for the church between 1939 and 1991 when the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church was proscribed by law in the Soviet Union.
It has also become the main Ukrainian monastery in Rome, the old premises at Sant Sergio e Bacco being used as a pilgrim hospice. The monks belong to the Basilian Order of St Josaphat.
A rather plain building in pink brick, the church has two storeys and an unusual dome.
The first storey is on a square plan, and has a semi-circular apse attached. There is a projecting cornice. The second storey has a plan based on a Greek cross with very short arms, and the interior angles of the cross occupied by diagonal walls. There is a matching projecting cornice, an arched window on each end wall except in the apse and another, smaller window in deach of these diagonal walls.
The dome has a high drum on the plan of a chamfered square, the chamfers being formed by carrying up the diagonal walls just mentioned. The dome itself is very low, and formed of eight tiled roof pitches. It has a lantern with a little lead cupola.
Access and liturgyEdit
Mass in celebrated here in the Byzantine rite, the Ukrainian language being used.
However, the church seems to have the effective status of a private college chapel, and the times of liturgical events are not advertised.
Any visit by seriously interested persons would need to be arranged beforehand. The phone number of the college is 06 6892934 (as at 2013).