San Pio V is a later 20th century parish and titular church at Largo San Pio V 2, in the Aurelio quarter near the Baldo degli Ubaldi metro station. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here. An English Wikipedia page is here.

The dedication is to Pope St Pius V.

History Edit

The area was rural until after the Second World War, and was served by the tiny church of Santa Maria del Riposo which was subsidiary to Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci.

The parish was set up in 1951 in response to suburban development, and the church begun in the following year. It was designed by Tullio Rossi. For some reason (probably financial) the consecration was seriously delayed, until 1962, but the fabric was completed well before this (the dedicatory inscription on the façade has 1952).

The church was made titular as a diaconate in 1973, the title being San Pio V a Villa Carpegna. The penultimate cardinal deacon was José Tomas Sánchez, who died in 2012 and was replaced by James Michael Hervey in the same year.


Layout and fabric Edit

The church is in a somewhat modernized neo-Romanesque style, on a traditional basilical plan. There is a central nave with aisles of seven bays, then an integral semi-circular apse. There is no transept or sanctuary bay.

The aisles are continued as a pair of chapels flanking the sanctuary, and wrap around the back of the apse as sacristy accommodation. There is also an odd structural outer aisle or corridor down the left hand side, which ends at the tower campanile flanking the last nave bay on that side.

The fabric is mostly in yellow brick, with only a few architectural details in stone.

The aisles are flat-roofed, and are proportionately low with completely blank walls. The very high central nave walls each have fifteen false brick pilasters, created by slots in the brickwork which also run below the roofline in between the pilasters to create a false cornice. Every other nave bay has a pair of vertical rectangular windows below this top groove, which have concrete mullions dividing each window into six squares. There are three of these window pairs, and the other four nave bays have blank panels in lieu, outlined by a horizontal groove below each.

The apse is in the same style, with nine false pilasters in the curved wall. There is a single window on each side before the first one.

The campanile is an unadorned brick tower on a rectangular plan, with a large square bell opening in each short side and two smaller rectangular ones in each long side of the bell-chamber.

Façade Edit

The façade has two storeys. The first one has a simple blank brick frontage slightly brought forward, with its own slightly overhanging flat concrete roof. There are three entrance portals, each with its own flight of steps. The side ones are smaller, and each has a simple recessed rectangular brick frame. The main doorway, which is larger, is inset within a niche to the plane of the actual nave frontage. Above the door, in the niche, is a mosaic by Joseph Strachota depicting Pope St Pius V and St George with the Madonna and Child, and a background showing the Battle of Lepanto (at which the navy of the Ottoman Turks was defeated during his pontificate).

The second storey has a simple attic plinth, which conceals the flat nave rooflines. Interestingly, the brickwork of this melds with that of the end of the outer corridor on the left hand side and so gives the façade an asymmetric aspect. The central nave frontage above this has six false pilasters, which support a stone entablature with a deep frieze and no architrave. Above this is a triangular pediment with a blank brick tympanum. The brickwork in between the pilasters below the entablature is given a row of blank rectangular panels by horizontal grooves joining the grooves outlining the pilasters, and the central one of these five panels is occupied by a window in the same style as those of the nave.

The frieze of the entablature has a dedicatory inscription, which is now rather eroded: D.O.M, in hon. Pii V Pont. Max. A.D. MCMLII.

The only decoration on the façade is a tablet bearing the relief coat-of-arms of Pope Pius XII, over the attic plinth in the centre.


Nave Edit

The interior has a very high central nave, and flat-roofed side aisles. These are separated from the main space by seven square concrete piers on each side, which are clad in red marble and which are topped with gilded imposts. These support the edge between the aisle roofs and central nave walls directly -there is no entablature.

The decoration of the central nave walls above these piers mimics that of the exterior. Overall, the walls are in an off-white. Above the piers, each wall has a row of square panels outlined by gilded grooves, two on each side for each bay. Every other bay has these panels replaced by square windows containing stained glass depicting Christian symbols, three pairs on each side (these windows are invisible from the exterior). Above the row of panels is a horizontal groove, and above this is blank wall until near the roof. There, a similar row of vertical rectangular panels contains three pairs of windows in the same way. These have been noted in the description of the exterior, and contain clear glass.

The aisles end in a pair of side chapels.

The roof is a concrete truss, with the thin truss beams and tie bars painted red. From the latter hang pendant lamps designed with the church by Rossi, which are impressive fixtures in beaten copper with red enamel crosses. The supporting cables pass through spheroids in blue faience.

Sanctuary Edit

The curve of the lower apse wall is panelled in the same red marble as is used in the nave piers. Above, the décor of the central nave walls is continued around the curve. The two zones are separated by a strip in gilt.

The altar has been moved forward to be free-standing, and replaced by seating for the ministers and the small organ. Above the seat for the principal celebrant, on the red wall, is an icon of Pope Pius V. Above this in turn, on the white zone, is a crucifix with a gilt corpus flanked by six gilt angel candlesticks (which look odd, stuck to the wall so high up). These were for the original high altar, and are by Francisco Nagni (he also designed the sixteen candlesticks on the side altars).

On the wall at either side of the apse is a sanctuary lamp in gilt, one in the form of four hands holding the lamp (apparently two male and two female -not obvious), and the other in the form of a ship in memory of the Battle of Lepanto. These are by Goffredo Verginelli.

Other artworks Edit

Off the bottom left hand corner is the original baptistery, with a large fresco depicting The Baptism of Christ by the local Roman artist Igino Cupelloni. The font itself was provided by Rossi, and is of a similar design to the hanging lamps in the nave. It is covered in gilt mosaic with red crosses, and has a copper cover.

This font used to have a finial of St John the Baptist by Goffredo Verginelli, a local Roman sculptor. It is now on a pillar near a new font in the left hand aisle, which has a hexagonal marble bowl on four red marble columns and with inlaid polychrome geometric decoration.

On the counterfaçade over the entrance is an angel in gesso by Duilio Cambellotti. Flanking the door are two statues, one of St Francis by Alessandro Monteleone and one of St Anthony of Padua by Michele Guerrisi.

An impressive bronze statue of St Catherine of Siena is by Antonio Berti. This is accompanied by two gilded terracotta reliefs showing St Dominic with SS Peter and Paul, and (oddly) the Palio di Siena. The Dominican theme is because Pope St Pius V was a member of the Order.

The superb polychrome ceramic high-relief Stations of the Cross were designed by Angelo Biancini and executed by Guerrino Tramonti. The same two were also responsible for the relief of the Sacred Heart.

Liturgy Edit

Church Edit

Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):

Weekdays: 8:30, 19:00;

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

(This is for winter -there may be changes for summer.)

Subsidiary Mass centres Edit

The parish has two subsidiary Mass centres, which it advertises on its website:

Santa Maria del Riposo.

Mass is celebrated on weekdays at 7:30 and 17:00, and on Sundays and Solemnities at 7:30 and 10:30.

Cappella delle Suore delle Poverelle dell'Istituto Palazzolo.

This is the private chapel of the Roman headquarters of this congregation of sisters, which is based in Bergamo. They are allowing the public to attend Mass here.

The convent is a house, and the chapel is just a room within it.

Mass is celebrated at 7:30 on weekdays, and 9:00 on Sundays.

External linksEdit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

Roman Despatches blog with gallery

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