Santi Mario e Marta is an 18th century private church at Via di Boccea 1452, which is in the Casalotti zone.

The dedication is to SS Marius, Martha, Audifax and Abacchum. By tradition their original shrine was in catacombs here, although these have not been explored.

The church is in the municipality of Rome, but belongs to the diocese of Porto Santa Rufina.

History Edit

The locality is called Boccea, and the present road leading to it from the city is the Via di Boccea. The church is at the Tenuta di Boccea, which is the main farmstead for an entirely rural location. The name is from the Latin Buxum, meaning "box-tree wood".

By tradition, here was the thirteenth milestone on the Via Cornelia. Perhaps in the early 4th century, four martyrs were interred in a cemetery called Ad nymphas. Nothing else is known about them, although their fictional legend describes them as a husband and wife with two sons who were on pilgrimage from Persia.

A church on the site was a place of pilgrimage from early on in the Middle Ages. However, the relics of the four martyrs were transferred to the Basilica e Catacomba di San Valentino in the 9th century.

The church was rebuilt in 1789 on the orders of Pope Pius VI, the architect being Virginio Bracci. The work was supervised by Giuseppe Viventi.

In 1951, the new church of Santa Maria di Loreto a Boccea was built a short way down the Via di Boccea. This was made parochial, and took over pastoral responsibilities from the old church. As a result, the latter fell into disuse. However, in 2011 the farmstead was restored as a country hotel and so was the church. It now functions as a wedding venue.

The cult of the martyrs has been preserved at Rome through the dedication of the church of Santi Mario e Compagni Martiri.

Exterior Edit

Layout and fabric Edit

Apparently there are catacombs underground here where the martyrs were originally buried, but these are now completely unknown.

The little church stands on its own a little distance from the farmstead with a lawned area in between the two (this is now called the Giardino Segreto). It has a simple rectangular plan of a single nave, with a small and shallow rectangular apse. At the back, and the same width as the church, is attached a sacristy block which encloses the apse.

The fabric is in brick, rendered in a pinkish orange. The gabled roof is tiled, as is the single-slope sacristy roof which is at a lower level.

There is only one rectangular window in each side wall. On top of the far end of the left hand side wall is a very simple campanile or bell-cote which is a flat-topped brick arch having imposts in the brickwork. It has a little buttress forming two sides of a square, which sits on the left hand side of the sanctuary wall.

Façade Edit

The façade is an effective composition, despite being a blank wall without pilasters. The single doorway has a molded door-case with a horizontal cornice raised on a pair of little incurved volutes. The long rectangular space thus framed looks as if it once contained a tablet. Above the cornice is a large semi-circular lunette window, and low down flanking the doorway is a pair of vertical almost-elliptical windows (the curves are not true ellipses). The windows do not have frames.

The roofline has a projecting molded cornice.

The architectural details are in a pale yellow.

Interior Edit

Nave Edit

The small interior has its walls rendered in a pale orange, with the side walls topped by a simply molded cornice which fits over the pair of side windows and also runs across the end walls below the gables. The roof is open, supported by a single transverse triangular truss which springs from a pair of blind pilasters in what looks like pale grey marble. These are on the other side of the windows.

There is a set of the Stations of the Cross on terracotta relief tablets.

Sanctuary Edit

The altar is in the shallow round-headed apse, framed in a triumphal arch of the same stone as the pilasters. The keystone of the arch is extended up to meld with the cornice. The arch has block imposts, which are continued around the apse as a string course. This is interrupted by the white Baroque frame of the altarpiece, which is round-headed and stands on a pair of curlicued elliptical tablets.

The present altarpiece, which is not original, depicts the Madonna and Child being venerated by a saintly personage and angels. There is an obelisk in the background.

The sanctuary is a platform with two steps, flanked by a pair of doors leading into the sacristy. The altar frontal is yellow and grey marble inlay work incorporating a bronze cross. The tabernacle is impressive, featuring panels of lapis lazuli.

Liturgy Edit

Weddings are celebrated here and it is apparently a popular venue, but there is no public liturgical activity.

External links Edit

"Tenuta di Boccea" website

Info.roma web-page

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