Santi Protomartiri Romani is a mid 20th century parish and titular church at Via Angelo di Pietro 50 in the Aurelio quarter, just south-west of Vatican City and south of the Villa Doria Pamphilj.

The dedication is to the Protomartyrs of Rome.

History Edit

The parish was set up in 1964. The church was designed by Francesco Fornari, and completed in 1968. His inspiration was obviously Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio, as it was originally built.

It was made titular in 1969, the title being Santi Protomartiri a Via Aurelia Antica. The present cardinal priest is Henri Schwery.

Exterior Edit

Layout and fabric Edit

The plan is based on a Maltese cross, with an octagonal main body having its four cardinal sides extended by short square-ended arms. The one containing the sanctuary is twice the length of the other three.

This edifice, in red brick with white stone details, is surprisingly neo-Classical for the period (info-roma calls it modernista, which it certainly is not). The visible exterior walls are in red brick, the diagonal sides having a deep white frieze at the roofline. The main octagon has a roof of eight pitches surrounding the dome, but the arms each has its own gabled roof with the apex touching the base of the dome drum. The frieze just mentioned runs across the gable of each arm's end wall to create a false pediment.

There is central dome, on a low octagonal drum with three vertical rectangular windows in each side. The dome itself is shallow, with eight pitches meeting at a cylindrical lantern with eight window-slits. The roofs overall are in a dark grey composition, but the cupola of the lantern is in copper.

There is a detached tower campanile on the far left hand side, in plain brick with two large rectangular bell openings on each side and a shallow pyramidal cap.

Façade Edit

The entrance façade is fronted by an open portico with a horizontal roof supported by two unadorned square brick piers and accessed by a flight of steps. Over the main entrance-door within is a dedicatory inscription. Above the porch is a row of three arched windows, and at the top a genuine triangular pediment above the frieze that runs around the church exterior. The windows have metal mullions in a cross-and-ring pattern.

The tympanum of the pediment has a papal coat-of-arms in relief (it's a bit eroded, and not easy to make out).

Interior Edit

One surprise is that, despite the church's shape, the altar is not central but in the far cross arm -in other words, a traditional layout. The side cross arms contain chapels, dedicated to the Crucifix to the right and Our Lady to the left. These have blank back walls but are lit by a pair of windows in the side walls.

There are no ceilings, but the roof inside is as you see it outside. It is rendered in white. The walls have a light brown stone-clad dado, and are in a light yellowish brown below a thin dark brown string-course running round the interior just below the roof.

The dome drum is supported by an arcade of eight undecorated arches supported by columns in a rather yellowish grey. These do not have capitals, but instead tile imposts of a red marble which give a little colour to an otherwise bland interior. The interior of the dome has eight ribs meeting at the lantern. Everything in the dome above the red imposts is also in white.

Liturgy Edit

Mass is celebrated for July and August (parish website, July 2018):

Weekdays (7:00, 9:00), 19:00;

Sundays and Solemnities 8:00, (10:00), 11:00, (12:00, 17:00), 19:00.

Times in brackets are Masses that have been celebrated during winter in previous years, and might be reintroduced in September 2018.

Mass is celebrated in the Extraordinary Form on Saturdays at 10:00.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

Italian Wikipedia page

Parish website

Info.roma web-page

Beweb web-page

Roman Despatches - blog with gallery

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