Santa Paola Frassinetti is a late 20th century parish church at Via Ettore Janni 31 in the Castel di Decima district. The locality is called Selcetta, part of the suburb of Trigoria which is to the west of the Via Laurentina south of the Grande Raccordo Anulare.
See also Santa Maria Assunta e San Michele a Castel Romano (the former parish church).
Old church Edit
The former parish church stands on the site of an old farmstead or Casale at Via di Trigoria 301, in an entirely rural location -the Castel Romano. The first documentary reference is from 996, when the extensive property was the possession of the monastery of Sant'Alessio all'Aventino.
In 1730, the Sacchetti family sold the estate to Cardinal Giulio Alberoni, who immediately built a palatial villa here the main edifice of which incorporated a church. This was consecrated in 1731. However, in 1740 he retired to Piacenza where he founded a seminary for poor boys at San Lazzaro -this became the Collegio Alberoni.
The villa has been referred to as the Palazzo Alberoni, which is confusing since it should be Villa Alberoni but this would cause further confusion with a more familiar building on the Via Nomentana.
In 1750, just before the cardinal's death in 1752, the church was formally established as an arcipretura curata of the cathedral of Sant'Aurea a Ostia Antica, and the Augustinian friars were put in charge of the enormous, entirely rural, thinly populated parish territory.
When the cardinal died, the property was left to the Collegio Alberoni and this in turn came under Propaganda Fide. The villa went back to being a farmstead, with the gardens being lost.
In 1896 there was a restoration after an earthquake damaged the church. The architect was Etorre Bonelli. The edifice bears a marble tablet recording this.
The region was still completely rural when the curacy was transferred to the diocese of Rome in 1948. This coincided with the beginning of suburban development, much of it illegal and very messy, which led to the diffuse neighbourhoods of Selcetta, Trigòria (these two not well distinguished), Borgata Trigòria and Trigòria Alta. None of these was near the church. Selcetta gained a public chapel, Madonna di Fatima a Trigoria.
The friars left in 1975, handing over the parish to diocesan clergy.
New church Edit
The location of the old church, in a rural setting next to a forest where no suburban development was going to be allowed, became very inconvenient. This was especially so since the local bus service did not run anywhere near it. So, a new church was commissioned in 1983 to a design by Carlo Colonna, and the old one reduced to a subsidiary place of worship. It seems to have been finally shut down in 2018.
The two churches are over four kilometres apart.
The chapel of Madonna di Fatima was still open in 2019, according to the Diocese, despite being about half a kilometre from the new church.
The plan is an irregular decagon, with three sides occupying the entrance frontage and two for each side wall with internal angles (so that the church is waisted). The final three sides are at the altar end, matching the entrance end except that the side behind the altar is shorter.
The roof is a complicated shape, with several pitches meeting at a point on the church's major axis a little nearer the entrance than the altar wall. Over the entrance is a high triangular gable, with its associated pitches running back. The altar wall has a similar arrangement, except that the angle is more acute. There is a slight gable over each waisted side wall. The eaves overhang these walls substantially, and are supported by concrete pillars. The walls themselves have their bottom halves in pale yellow-brown tufo blocks, and their top halves in window.
The entrance façade is recessed within the side walls, and has a sheltering canopy provided by the overhanging triangular gable, and the gable itself is occupied by clear glass. There is a horizontal concrete beam between this and the door, and two vertical pilasters supporting the gable. The door itself is in clear glass with an abstract pattern.
The gable over the altar also contains a large triangular window. Externally it is framed by two inverted V's in concrete, one behind the other, which together make up the campanile.
The interior is dominated by the roof. Ten massive but thin beams in yellowish-grey reinforced concrete meet at a short cylindrical skylight, giving a star pattern. These beams spring from low slab piers of a hammer-head shape, formed by cutting an inner curve from a radially aligned vertical rectangular slab. Most of these slabs (not the ones at the cardinal side points) also have portals cut through them.
The walls are in the same yellowish tufo blocks as the outside, and the ceiling in between the beams is in white. The windows are all in clear glass.
Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):
Weekdays 8:45, 18:30 (19:00 in summer, and all Saturdays);
Sundays and Solemnities 10:00, 11:30, 18:30 (19:00 in summer) -the two morning Masses are replaced with one at 10:30 in summer.
Lauds is celebrated with the morning weekday Mass, at 18:30.
External Mass centres Edit
The parish had three external Mass centres in 2018, only operating on Sundays and Solemnities. Owing to the parish website going offline, these have not been checked for 2019.
Santa Maria Assunta e San Michele a Castel Romano (the old parish church). Mass was at 9:00, but the church seems to have shut down in 2018.
Istituto Madonna di Fatima, Via di Trigoria 90. This is the chapel of a care home run by the Oblate del Sacro Cuore del Gesù. Mass 8:00.
Suore Missionarie della Misericordia, Via Ferdinando Ongonia. This convent occupies an ordinary house. Mass 18:00, but not in summer.
Parish website (Offline, May 2019)