Santa Maria dell'Olivo is an earlier 20th century parish church with a post address at Via Rubellia 7, in the suburb of Settecamini which is just north of the Via Tiburtina and east of the Grande Raccordo Anulare (Circonvallazione Orientale). The church is in a little park facing the Piazza di Santa Maria dell'Olivo.
Chapel of Casale Edit
The suburb is rather unusual among those of the Roman periphery in existing as a countryside hamlet for a very long time.
The Casale di Settecamini was the site of a mansio or wayside hostelry in ancient times, and remains of this have been excavated. The locality was known in mediaeval times as the Campo dei Sette Fratelli, in allusion to the legend of St Symphorosa and her seven sons. According to this, they had been buried on the Via Tiburtina (they had come from Tivoli, to which the road runs).
Later, for some reason the site became known as the "Oven of the Seven Brothers" and an inn (the descendant of the mansio) took the name of the Osteria del Forno. This was a stopping-point for travellers between Rome and Tivoli for centuries.
The chapel of Sant’Isidoro a Settecamini, the ancestor of the parish, appears on one of the maps of the Catasto Alessandrino in 1660. Nothing is known of its foundation. However, back then the locality was owned by the Chapter of Santa Maria Maggiore and it is a fair surmise that the chapel was built on its orders to minister to the local farmworkers. The area remained wholly rural until the 20th century.
A map dating from later in the 18th century labels the chapel as San Francesco, and this seems to be the origin of the alternative name of San Francesco a Settecamini.
The estate passed to the Torlonia family in the mid 19th century. Under their aegis, a private donation was made to the chapel in 1917 of a copy of the venerated icon of the Madonna of the Olive Tree.
Parish church Edit
However, in the early 20th century some suburban development had begun in the locality. Back then, the territory and chapel belonged to the parish of Santa Maria Immacolata e S Vincenzo de Paoli and it was under the aegis of this that a new church was constructed in 1923. The diocesan archives give the name of the architect as E. Fiorentini.
The icon was transferred from the old chapel, and the latter became redundant since it is not very far from the church (it is still consecrated, however).
The parish was set up in 1926, and initially put in the care of diocesan clergy. However, in the later 20th century it was transferred to the Missionaries of the Holy Family (Missionari della Sacra Famiglia), who are still in charge.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church is a tall building with a single nave of five bays, no aisles and an external semi-circular apse. It is described as neo-Baroque (barocchetto), but has Gothic hints because the windows are "pointed".
The parish and presbyteral accommodation is in an annexe that wraps around the apse and has two wings flanking the last two nave bays. A tower campanile stands next to the wing on the right, and was apparently built later than the church.
The fabric is rendered in ochre yellow, with white stone and red brick details.
The exterior walls of the nave each have two storeys separated by a string course. The first storey on each side has the three bays separated by brick pilasters, and each bay has one tall single-light round-headed window (the ancillary wings abut the last two bays). The second storey has five large recessed round-headed panels, with the second bay from the entrance and the fourth having a triplet of windows, the middle one being taller, and the first, third and fifth bays having only a singleton.
There is a rather impressive detached tower campanile to the right of the far right hand corner of the church. Its high plinth, in brick painted in a faded ox-blood colour, has a prominently overhanging cornice and eight little pendant arches without corbels on each side. The main storey of the tower has a large round-headed window on two sides, and a clock-face on each side below the bell-chamber. The latter has two more projecting cornices below and above, and an arched sound-hole on each side. The roofline has a row of three decorative brick finials on each side, shaped like a stylized pair of horns.
The entrance façade has a tall gabled red brick porch enclosing the entrance, with an arched portal. Over the door is a tympanum with a relief of the Annunciation, having a slight Gothic point to the curve.
Above the porch is a wheel window in stone, with the lights forming a Japanese chrysanthemum with six petals separated by little columns with capitals.
There is a row of small pendant brick Gothic arches below the gabled roofline, supported on small stone corbels.
The simple interior is mostly in a very light grey, and is high in proportion to its width. The nave walls are provided with dados in polished travertine limestone. The dark-stained wooden roof is open, with longitudinal planking.
The sanctuary apse has a triumphal arch which is slightly pointed, matching the windows. This springs from a pair of corner pilasters, in Tuscan Doric style and revetted in what looks like red marble. The low capitals are continued around the apse as a string course, and the latter is supported by two shallow pilasters in the same red marble. The arch itself has the text Redemisti nos sanguine tuo ("You have redeemed us by your blood"). The nave dado is continued around the apse, and the three wall areas above this are frescoed in pastel shades. The left hand side depicts The Annunciation, the right hand side The Holy Family and the centre is in a pale blue stippled wash. The last is the background for the tiny venerated icon of the Madonna dell'Olivo, in a frame with glory rays.
There are two little side chapels, entered through unadorned pointed arches. One is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, the other to St Anthony of Padua and are provided with polychrome altarpiece statues.
According to the Diocese (June 2018), Mass is celebrated in the church:
Weekdays 7:00, 18:00;
Sundays and Solemnities 7:30, 10:00 (not summer), 11:30, 18:00.
External Mass centres Edit
The Diocese lists three external Mass centres:
Sant’Isidoro a Settecamini (this is disused)