Santa Paola Romana is a mid 20th century parish and titular church at Via Duccio Galimberti 9 in the Trionfale quarter, just east of the Appiano train station. This is in the southern part of suburb of Balduina. Pictures of the church at Wikimedia Commons are here.
The dedication is to St Paula.
Madonna del Pozzo Edit
This church replaced a little country chapel dedicated to the Madonna del Pozzo (of the well), which is documented from the 16th century. Its origins seem obscure, and its foundation seems to have been around then or in the previous century. Its function would have been to serve a scattered, completely rural community.
The origin of this title of Our Lady lies in a venerated icon in the church of Santa Maria in Via. However there is doubt as to whether the chapel was named after this, or simply after a well near the chapel. Whatever, by the 19th century the altarpiece was a copy of the famous icon, and the little hamlet was called Borghetto Madonna del Pozzo.
The chapel was not on the site of the present church, but behind it. Located here is now a football pitch, and next to it to the east is a little dead-end street still called Borghetto Madonna del Pozzo.
Appearance of old chapel Edit
Roma Sparita has uploaded a 1926 photo of the chapel here. This shows a low rectangular edifice, with a pitched and tiled roof having a little campanile or bellcote sitting on the tip of the gable over the entrance. There is a single entrance with a stone doorcase, accessed by a flight of three steps. A square stone-framed window is to the right of the entrance, and a rectangular one above it. This latter window is inserted into the tympanum of a false triangular pediment well below the gable roofline, and is enclosed by an archivolt bearing a dedicatory inscription.
New church Edit
The new church was designed by Silvio Casadori, and completed in 1951 in order to be ready for the new parish which was erected later in the same year. The venerated icon was transferred to it from the old chapel, which was demolished. (Roma Sparita gives a date of demolition in 1961, which means that it must have been derelict for ten years despite being at least four hundred years old.)
The parish was provided with a subsidiary church, Santa Maria degli Angeli a Balduina, in 1964 but this was closed in 2010 and demolished in 2018.
The church was made titular in 2015, and the first cardinal priest is Soane Patita Paini Mafi.
There was a recent restoration, when the exterior was re-painted. Beforehand it was dark grey with orange and light grey details, which was a fairly horrible colour combination (see the Wikimedia photo here.)
Layout and fabric Edit
The church has a single nave of four structural bays without side aisles, and a narrower rectangular sanctuary of two bays. It is designed in a simplified neo-Romanesque style, with some modernist influence but old-fashioned for its date. There is a single external chapel on the left hand side of the nave. The site slopes away from the frontage, and the church stands on a crypt at the side-street level. The right hand wall of this, facing the street, is revetted in marble slabs, and gets higher as the street slopes down. It contains horizontal rectangular windows which light the crypt.
The main exterior walls are now in a very light pastel pink. Each side wall has six large round-headed windows in a row high up, with flush red brick frames (except for the sills). These frames are extended downwards as pilaster strips right to the crypt dado walling, giving the impression of a portion of a railway viaduct.
The narrower sanctuary has no windows. The back wall has red brick for the crypt frontage, and above that the pale pink render with seven thin blind red brick pilaster strips (one on each corner), which run up to the gable roofline. Attached to the right of the sanctuary is the sacristy, with its own single pitched roof.
A rectangular tower campanile is inserted into the corner between the right hand end of the nave and the sanctuary. It has a double-arched bell opening on each long face, which on the street side has the brick frames of these openings continued to the ground as three stripes to match the feature on the nave side wall. The tower cap has a single pitch, sloping inwards.
The entrance façade has a portico occupying its entire width, with a single-pitched tiled roof and a large arched portal flanked by two small round-headed windows. These windows light side chambers, the right hand one being a side vestibule (there is a door round the corner). Above the portico is a row of three round-headed windows with brick frames, which sit on the top edge of the portico roof. The gable is actually higher than the nave roof behind, and in the apex of the gable is the coat-of-arms of Pope St John XXIII. There is no other decoration.
Unfortunately the façade is abutted by a three-storey block to the right, which actually intrudes into the left hand corner and gives a very unfortunate effect. This building contains the parish offices.
The interior is very straightforward. It has an open timber truss roof, whitewashed walls and an unadorned sanctuary arch. The walls have grey-green marble dado cladding for about two metres from the floor, and the same marble is used to revet the entire inner surface of the arch. There is a side chapel on the left hand side, containing the 18th century icon of Our Lady of the Well brought from the old chapel that the church replaced.
Large naturalistic paintings in round-headed frames are hung on the nave walls below the windows, showing scenes from the life of Christ.
In the sanctuary is a large mosaic, on the far wall. This is again in a naturalistic style, and shows the Madonna and Child being venerated by St Joseph and St Paula. The latter was a Roman patrician lady who was a friend of St Jerome, and who founded a nunnery at Bethlehem where she died in 404.
The site of the former altar (before re-ordering in the 1970's) is now occupied by a stone priest's chair. To either side the sanctuary wall is revetted in yellow marble.
The church is open from 7:15 to 12:00 (or after 12:15 Mass if there is one), and 17:00 to 19:30 daily (or after last Mass on Sunday).
Mass is celebrated (parish website, July 2018):
Weekdays 9:00, 19:00;
Sundays and Solemnities 9:00, 10:00, 11:15, 12:15 (not summer), 18:00 (not summer), 19:00, 20:00.
Rosary is recited daily at 18:30.
There is Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament daily from 7:30 to 12:30, and 17:00 to 19:00.
The parish website is "santapaolaromana.org", but some pages offer malware downloads.