San Nicola al Villaggio dei Pescatori is a 20th century Fascist-era subsidiary parish church at the junction between Via delle Quinqueremi and Via dei Brigantini, on the eastern edge of Lido di Ostia. The district is LdO Levante.
The dedication is to St Nicholas of Bari.
The local parish church has the same dedication, which is unusual since the two churches have different origins. Presumably to avoid confusion, the parish has taken to calling this one the Cappella Borghetto dei Pescatori. However, it is not a chapel but a church.
The history of the church is tied up with the village of Borghetto dei Pescatori, just to the east. This grew up as a collection of shacks erected by Neapolitan fishermen at the mouth of an ancient Roman canal now called the Canale dei Pescatori. The canal mouth formed a convenient harbour for their small boats, and the hamlet was in place by 1890.
Development of Lido di Ostia by the Fascist government in the 1920's threatened to clear the shanties, especially when the shore road (now the Lungomare Duilio) was built. However the author and Fascist supporter Margherita Sarfatti intervened on behalf of the fishermen, and so a planned settlement was built for them instead next to the canal.
The church was built as part of this neighbourhood in 1932, a little to the west. St Nicholas had already been chosen as a patron by the little community, as he is one for all those making a living in sea-going boats.
The central parish of Lido di Ostia, Santa Maria Regina Pacis a Ostia Lido, was in charge as this was part of its territory. This changed when the parish of San Nicola di Bari a Lido di Ostia was set up in 1981, and it seems that the initial idea was to make this the parish church. If so, minds were changed and the fisherman's church was annexed as a subsidiary place of worship instead. This is what it remains (2017).
Layout and fabric Edit
The location is rather bleak. The church stands at the entrance to the Borghetto dei Pescatori, which has become a minor local resort, but is rather to one side of it.
It is a small, simple single-naved building with a semi-circular apse integral with the side walls. The nave has three bays, each with a small round-headed window in each side wall -three on each side. Two further windows are in the apse.
The walls have been recently repainted in an off-white with a dado in pale pearl-grey, and the roof is pitched and tiled with the apse covered in sectors.
The façade has a tiled gable, which is higher than the nave roof behind. The frontage is dominated by a massive arch reaching almost to the roofline, with a recessed interior containing the single large round-headed entrance. This is fronted by a rectangular patio approached by six stairs on its three sides.
The background colour is a pale pearl-grey. The large arch is flanked by a pair of large vertical rectangular panels in white, and a thick white arc outlines the archivolt. Inside the recess, the upper part of the wall is in white and another thick white arc surrounds the curved top of the entrance. The wall flanking the doorway is in white too, with a thin grey fillet on each side imitating an impost.
There is a double campanile or bell-cote on the left edge of the roofline gable, with its sides integral with the frontage and left hand side wall. This structure has two little gables in the form of an inverted W, and two round-headed openings side by side. The left hand one is larger and has a horizontal sill, but the smaller right hand one has a sill sloping in the line of the gable.
The simple interior has its walls in white. Engaged side piers in red brick support a massive block-cornice down the top of each side wall, into which the tie beams of the open roof are inserted. The timbers of the roof are stained dark brown.
The floor is in red marble tiles, with that in front of the altar having the inlaid monogram of Christ: IHS. The sanctuary is raised on three steps.
The apse is entered through a triumphal arch, without imposts but with the archivolt in exposed red brick.
The church is worth visiting for the polychrome resin artworks by Immacolata Di Paolo which decorate the sanctuary furnishings. The altar has a frontal depicting The Last Supper, and the walnut wood pulpit or ambo to the right depicts the risen Christ on the front and The Pelican in Piety around the side. To the left is a large statue of the Miraculous Medal Madonna, on a plinth made to look like red marble and bearing the motto of the medal: "Our Lady conceived without original sin, pray for us who have recourse to you".
The back of the apse has a round-headed niche containing a crucifix, and the background of this features angels, putti and Our Lady of Sorrows. Below is the tabernacle, an abstract work in patinated bronze with a silvered door. It is set within the original polychrome resin backing panel or gradine of the altar when it was against the wall -as is usual, the altar has been brought forward.
The triumphal arch has a statue of St Nicholas to the right of it, and a copy of the miraculous icon of Our Lady of Divine Love to the left -see Santuario della Madonna del Divino Amore for this.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):
Sundays and Solemnities 10:00, and one for the Ukrainian community (which seems to be the Latin rite in Ukrainian, not the Byzantine rite) at 12:15.
There is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on Fridays, from 21:00 to 22:00.