Santi Militari is the formal name for a late 20th century army barracks parish church at Via della Chiesa del Presidio 12 in the Città Militare in the zone of Cecchignola.
The church and parish is in the territory of the Diocese of Rome, but belongs to the Military Ordinariate of Italy (L'Ordinariato militare per l'Italia). This is equivalent to a diocese (its head is an archbishop), and has pastoral responsibility for all the armed forces in Italy with their dependents.
As the Ordinariate is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Vicariate of Rome, this church is not listed in the Diocesan website.
The name as given is the formal dedication. However, for some reason it is not often used and the parish refers to itself as the Parrocchia del Comprensorio Città Militare Cecchignola.
Its Facebook page refers to the church as Chiesa del Comprensorio Santi Giovanni XXIII e Giovanni Paolo II della Città Militare Cecchignola.
The dedication is very unusual. The Santi Militari comprise a large number of named saints (seventy-one, apparently) traditionally associated with military activity or chosen as patrons with various branches of the Italian armed forces. In addition, Our Lady is included under four of her titles.
The list (from the Italian) is:
SS Acacius (of the Ten Thousand Martyrs), Adrian of Nicomedia, Alexander of Bergamo, Barbara, Basil, Bessus, Camillus de Lellis, Canute IV of Denmark, Casimir, Catherine of Siena, Chiaffredus, Constantine the Emperor, Constantius, Christopher, Damian of Africa, Defendens, Demetrius, Domninus, Expeditus, Eustace, Faustinus & Jovita, Ferdinand III of Castile, Ferreolus, Firmus, Ferrutius, Florentius, Florian of Lorch, Francis of Assisi; Bl Francis Faà di Bruno; SS George, Joan of Arc, John the Baptist, John of Capistrano, Justus, Lanno, Liberalis, Longinus, Lawrence, Mark the Evangelist, Mark the Soldier, Marinus, Martinian, Martin of Tours, Matthew, Menas of Egypt, Maurice & Companions, Nicetas the Goth, Nicholas von Flüe, Octavius with Solutor & Aventor, Pancras, Potitus, Romanus, Sebastian; Bl Sebastian Valfrè, SS Secundus of Asti, Silvanus of Gaza, Stephen, Theodosius the Soldier, Tryphon, Valerius of Sebaste, Valerian, Venantius, Wenceslas, Vitus and Victor.
This is a very straightforward building, a creamy white concrete box with a flat roof having a low parapet and a simple projecting cornice. There are six vertical rectangular windows on each side. Parish offices are in a transverse annexe attached to the back, also flat-roofed but lower.
The front has a narrower and lower closed entrance bay with a single doorway, in the same style as the main edifice. It is fronted by an open canopy porch made of metal sheets pitched down from the cornice and supported by steel beams. This is as wide as the main church, and the gaps at the back flanking the entrance bay are filled with steel grilles.
The frontage of the church over the entrance bay has a device consisting of a steel ring crossed vertically by narrow steel rods. Three of these continue above the roofline and are crossed by a wider horizontal rod to give a cross finial.
An odd addition occupies the far right hand corner of the canopy, consisting of a close pair of tall steel girders to which two pairs of little steel rods are fixed, one above the other.
Unusually, the church does not face the road but away from it and looks over a parkland area. In front is an odd landscape feature, featuring a square sunken area in concrete with a brightly coloured patterned floor surrounding a round flower bed containing a pedestal bearing a small bronze abstract sculpture. This looks like a failed pond with fountain.
To the left is the free-standing campanile, which stands on a hexagonal plinth. It is in steel, a tripedal tower with the bell-chamber enclosed by horizontal girders. The side of the chamber facing the church also has a grille of vertical steel rods.
The interior is all in bright white, with the large side windows in slightly larger recessed panels. These windows have stained glass in an abstract style of horizontal strips, which give welcome colour.
The set of Stations of the Cross are large paintings in a simple figurative style which look as if they are oils.
The sanctuary consists of a free-standing longitudinally rectangular platform in pale brown marble, with an outwardly curved front edge. The altar stands on a smaller platform, well away from the far wall and is a mensa on a cuboid of grey-veined white Carrara marble with narrow vertical strips of red marble at the corners.
The main sanctuary platform has a large ceramic jar in patterned pale blue on its near right hand corner -is this the font? The left hand corner has the ambo or lectern, in the same style as the altar.
Behind the sanctuary platform is the bronze tabernacle, vertically oval in a rayed glory. It is enthroned on a wide stone pier, and is flanked by a composition of vertical stone strips of different heights but overall having their ends sweeping down either side from above the tabernacle. In the latter location is a statue of The Risen Christ.
Access and liturgy Edit
Apparently the church is open to non-military visitors. However, the Città Militare is itself gated.
Information on liturgical activities is hard to come by (the parish's Facebook page is no help).
The major seminary of the Ordinariate is fairly close by, at Via dei Carristi 14, and its place of worship is described as a church. However, there is no public access of any sort.
The seminary was erected in 1998, having previously been a college for chaplains.