The parish was erected in 1978, and entrusted to the Cannosiani. The temporary church was established in rented shop premises at Via Terpandro 60.
The permanent church was designed by Aldo Aloysi, and completed in 1986.
The Cannosiani gave up the parish to diocesan clergy in 1996.
Layout and fabric Edit
This is a low flat-roofed building, on a square plan with a diagonal on the major axis. The corner behind the altar chamfered. The plan is then divided into four smaller squares by cross-beams supporting the roof.
However, the architect has sexed-up the plan by slightly altering the sizes and heights of the four sub-squares. The near and far squares are slightly larger than the two side squares, and the heights of the roofs increase slightly from the near square (lowest) through the side squares (intermediate) to the far square over the sanctuary (highest). The variations in height and size are not large.
The fabric has reinforced concrete for a frame, with red brick infill walls. The sub-square bays are separated in each side by a massive double slab pier, proud of the walls either side and with a protrusion below the roofline. This melds with the roofline beams, which form deep overhanging fascia eaves, and with the cross-beams running across the roof. The concrete is of a greenish-grey colour.
Each sub-square bay wall also has a pair of subsidiary piers embedded in it, as well as a white plinth in what looks like limestone but might be a different mix of concrete.
The side corners have a vertical window strip on each side, and the corners of the chamfer behind the altar are also flanked with a pair of window strips. Another pair is just behind the middle pier in each near side wall, and in front of those in the far side walls. Thus there are a total of ten such window strips. These strips are divided into squares by thin concrete mullion bars.
The roof has a single circular skylight over the sanctuary.
The church is part of an extensive set of community sports and social facilities for the suburb.
The church does not have a frontage as such. The left hand near diagonal wall is parallel to the street, and has a portal at the near corner which joins to the street via an open flat-roofed covered way in white. This is supported by four thin square piers on either side. There is a matching entrance at the near end of the near right hand side wall, which has a porch in the same style.
Horizontal window strips below the roofline run back from the entrances along the near side walls, and the vertical mullion bars of these protrude.
In lieu of a proper civic façade, the church displays a dedicatory inscription on the fascia of the far end of the left hand side wall: D[eo] O[ptimo] M[aximo] in H[onorem] S[anctae] Melaniae Junioris A[nno] D[omini] MCMLXXXVI (note the unexpected "J", not a Latin letter as such).
To one side there is a prominent tower "campanile" (it seems to lack bells) in the form of three thin slab-pillars of dark grey concrete set at equidistant sixty-degree angles to each other, not quite touching where they meet and of different heights. The outer edges are each provided with an incurved step, at correspondingly differing heights. The tallest slab bears a large cross finial, formed of two bundles of stainless steel rods intended to symbolise wheat-sheaves.
The rather plain interior is in white. The roof has its two massive cross-beams prominently displayed, and in between these the four roof panels are gridded in square coffers. The circular skylight over the sanctuary is provided with a deep collar.
The church boasts a notable terracotta set of Stations of the Cross, not in separate units but as one frieze and attached to the near part of the left hand far side wall. It was created in 1988 by Giancarlo Miccà.
The windows contain good modern stained glass, in semi-abstract designs incorporating Christian symbols.
The parish is proud of their icon of the Madonna dell'Axa, which is in a very correct Byzantine style but in an unfamiliar idiom. The Christ-child is reclining in Our Lady's hands, which are covered by her robe.
The sanctuary is raised on a platform of three steps, but two steps are cut away on the right hand side to allow for a platform of a single step on which the baptismal font is placed. This is a cylindrical limestone tub with four vertical flanges having incurved tops.
The naturalistic and rather charming fresco behind the altar shows the family of the patron saint having a picnic near Jerusalem. She was a Roman noblewoman who founded a nunnery on the Mount of Olives in 432, and knew most of the great Church fathers of the time.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):
Weekdays 8:45, 19:00 (not July or August);
Sundays and Solemnities 8:45, 12:00, 19:00.
A Sunday Mass at 10:00 may be celebrated in winter.
Parish website (not well maintained, beware of possible malware pop-ups and redirections.)