Santa Maria Immacolata a Grottarossa is a 20th century Fascist-era parish and titular church at Via Flaminia 994 in the Grottarossa zone, north of the Milvian Bridge. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here.
This church was built in advance for its parish in 1935, the parish itself being set up two years later. In fact, it was provided as part of the facilities of a large rural farming estate called Fattoria di Grottarossa developed by the Piacentini family after they acquired the land from the Papal government in 1862. In 1902 the estate was purchased by Ettore Molinario, a banker and coffee merchant from Ivrea. He initiated substantial improvements twenty years later, including a large villa for himself, and the church was intended for the workers on the estate. Suburban development only followed after the Second World War.
The church was made titular in 1985, the present cardinal priest being Henryk Roman Gulbinowicz.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church has a cruciform plan. There is a single nave without aisles, and then a central transept with arms somewhat shorter than the nave. A sanctuary with the same length as the nave follows, and has an external segmental apse. The ends of the transept also have segmental apses, and are side chapels. Two smaller, square chapels are in the corners of the cross layout between nave and transept.
The sanctuary is flanked by two two-storey sacristy blocks, the one on the right joining onto the priests's house and that on the left to a tower campanile.
The exterior walls of the church are rendered in a light yellowish grey. There is one pitched and tiled cross-shaped roof covering nave, transept and sanctuary, and lower pitched and tiled roofs for the three apses and two small side chapels. The rooflines of all these are formed by projecting molded stone cornices. The windows are individual single-light round-headed apertures, a design feature of the church.
The tower campanile differs from the church in being in red brick, not rendered. A simple square brick tower is topped by a projecting cornice, above which is the bellchamber. This has a large arched soundhole on each side, and a tiled pyramidal cap. Each arch has a brick balustrade, and brick imposts continued as a string-course round each corner pier.
The church is a familiar landmark for those using the Via Flaminia Nuova trunk road.
The entrance of the church is set back from the street, and is approached via a path through a garden.
There is a very simple grey façade with a gabled roofline. The single entrance is approached by a short flight of steps, and has a prothyrium or portico in mediaeval style. (Compare the genuinely old one at Santa Prassede.) A pair of sort-of Corinthian columns supports an archivolt below a gable with a projecting cornice and cross finial. The actual entrance within has an arched tympanum displaying a fresco.
Above the portico is a row of three round-headed windows. The middle one of these is slightly elevated compared to the other two, the design recalling the stylized mountains often seen on historic papal coats of arms in the Centro Storico. There is no other decoration.
The interior has an architecturally simple basilical layout, with side naves (tre navate). The aisles are separated from the central nave by arcades supported by rather thin columns each with a molded abacus. These columns are in very light grey, but there is a very thin line of molding near the top of each which (with the abacus) gives the ghostly impression of a capital. This feature is painted white.
The central nave and aisles are vaulted, with transverse supporting arches springing from the columns. The archivolts of these are painted in a yellow ochre, as are the archivolts of the arcades, but the rest of the vaulting is white.
The aisles with their arcades run up to the back wall. However, the last bay which contains the sanctuary is distinguished by having a pair of blind square piers instead of capitals and these are painted a deeper shade of light grey. The corners of the piers are incut.
The back wall of the sanctuary has a large traditional painted crucifix.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, 2019):
Saturdays and eves of Solemnities 18:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 8:30 (not August), 11:30, 12:30 (not July or August), 19:30.
From 7:50 to 9:00 on Mondays to Fridays there is a Holy Hour with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, concluding with Benediction.
External Mass centre Edit
The parish has one subsidiary place of worship, Sacro Cuore di Gesù alla Piana.