San Marco in Agro Laurentino is a later 20th century parish and titular church at Piazza Giuliani e Dalmati 20, in the Giuliano Dalmata quarter to the east of EUR, on the other side of the Via Laurentina. There is an English Wikipedia page here.
The dedication is to St Mark the Evangelist.
The parish was originally founded in 1950, and was given into the administration of the Paduan province of the Friars Minor Conventual. The friars have their Roman headquarters fairly nearby, at Santa Maria Immacolata a Via Laurentina.
The dedication to St Mark is an allusion to the origins of many people who settled in the parish. He was the patron of the Republic of Venice, the territory of which was annexed by the Austrian Empire in 1815. The city and its hinterland the Veneto passed to Italy in 1866, but the rest remained with Austria until 1919 as the imperial provinces of Istria and Dalmatia. The more rabid variety of Italian nationalist considered that Italy had a historical claim to the entire territory.
After 1918 Italy managed to annex Istria, together with Fiume (now Rijeka) the major port of Croatia (and never part of Venice). These became part of the new province of Venezia Giulia. However, Italy only managed to acquire Zara (now Zadar) in Dalmatia and the rest went to Yugoslavia.
After 1945, the new Communist government of Yugoslavia annexed Istria, Fiume and Zara and pursued a policy of deportation of resident Italians. The greater number of these came from the coast of the Istrian peninsula, and are known as the esuli istriani. Those who ended up in Rome were mostly settled in the new suburb which was given the name of Giuliano Dalmata ("Giulia Dalmatia") as a reminder of their origins.
The first church was erected in 1956, but it was not this one. Rather, it was later decided in 1969 to build a new church on a different site, and this was finished in 1972 to a design by Ennio Canino with assistance from Vivina Rizzi. The old church is now San Giuseppe da Copertino.
The church was made titular in 1973, and the present cardinal priest is Alexandre do Nascimento.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church has a complicated and unusual plan, based on three geometric elements. Firstly, there is the nave which is a transverse rectangle with the long sides being incurved. Attached behind this, fitting into the far curve, is an ellipse with the long axis running transversely. Behind this in turn is fitted an arc with the same curvature which consists of a block of ancillary accommodation. A glance at Google Earth may make sense of this (the info.roma web-page has a portal).
The nave has an almost flat roof, with two shallow pitches sloping slightly to a gully on the major axis. The façade (see below) has its own slightly higher strip of flat roof, following its curve.
The elliptical part of the church (the sanctuary) is raised, with a flat roof bearing two rows of skylights in a lenticular pattern and with a pronounced overhang. The back curtain wall , forming the outer wall of the arc behind the ellipse, is also clad in rough blocks with a white concrete string course and vertical slit windows with concrete frames.
The entrance façade is coved, with an inward curve, and is faced with roughly cut cream-coloured limestone blocks with a strip of window at the top. The roofline is occupied by a curved concrete beam which is T-shaped in cross section. The only decoration consists of fourteen regularly spaced vertical shallow pilasters, and a horizontal string course in dark grey which is at the level of the lintel of the single entrance. The corners of the façade are occupied by another pair of wider and deeper pilasters, and the façade in between these has a dado in dark grey
There is a flat concrete entrance canopy shaped like a lenticel in front of the façade, supported by two concrete columns. Above this is a large rectangular window which merges into the window strip just mentioned. The two pilasters flanking this and the entrance are deeper than the others.
Main church Edit
The nave side walls are in rough dark grey ashlar (slate?), over rectangular niches separated by double wall-pilasters in the same creamy limestone ashlar as the façade. The flat ceiling has a row of four enormous lozenge coffers on the major axis, delineated by concrete ribs and each as wide as the nave. The floor is in red and white bricks.
The window over the entrance has stained glass in orange-red, and the counterfaçade wall flanking it is in creamy ashlar with pilasters. To the left on entering is a relief of the Lion of St Mark, carved in Istrian limestone.
The sanctuary roof is supported by a pair of gigantic columns in shuttered concrete with flared tops, which merge into the roof which itself displays shuttering marks. The back wall behind the altar is in grey ashlar, with two rows of pilasters separated by a horizontal string course. To each end of the ellipse these pilasters are replaced by vertical window strips. Where the sanctuary joins onto the nave are two wide window strips containing figurative stained glass in a traditional style.
The tabernacle is in the curve behind the altar, and is of bronze and travertine.
The church contains two notable modern bronze sculptures, a Madonna by Tino Perrotta and a Christ in Agony on the Cross by one U. Montalbano (the latter is in the right hand end of the sanctuary).
Cappella dei Santi Patroni dei Giuliani e Dalmati Edit
To the left on entering the church is the portal of the ferial chapel dedicated to the patrons of the homelands of many refugee settlers of the suburb. The Giuliani were from Venezia Giulia -that is, Istria; most of them were from Fiume (now Rijeka) or Pola (now Pula), and the Dalmati were from Dalmatia (mostly people from what is now Zadar).
The stained glass window is by A. Colella 1996, and depicts the Resurrected Christ with the Cross. Also shown are three regional saints, SS Thomas, Euphemia and Vitus, as well as the heraldry of Istria, Dalmatia, Fiume, Gorizia and Trieste. The last two cities are still part of Italy.
There are also eighteen mosaic panels showing saints from these two regions, by M. Sartan 1984.
The interior can be described as "mysterious", or as gloomy and monochrome. Some people thoroughly dislike it ("like a Soviet electrical power station").
However the architects seem to have wished to emulate a sacred cave, and this is an allusion to the many caves and sinkholes in the Karst plateau of Istria. In other words, the church's design is another reference to the origins of the refugees who settled here when the parish was set up.
According to the Diocese (May 2019), the main church is open:
Daily 7:15 to 12:00, 16:00 to 19:30.
The ferial chapel is open from 7:15 to 19:30.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, May 2019):
Weekdays 8:30 (not summer) and 19:00;
Sundays and Solemnities 9:00, 10:30, 12:00 (not summer), 19:00.
The weekday morning Mass is in the Cappella di Santi Patroni.