Santissima Annunziata a Via Ardeatina is a later 20th century parish church at Via di Grotta Perfetta 591, next to the small old church called L’Annunziatella which gave its name to the district. This is in the south of the city, in the Ardeatino quarter to the east of EUR.
The church was built because the old church of L’Annunziatella was too small for the needs of the parish. It was designed by Ignazio Breccia Fratadocchi and completed in 1987, on a site just to the east of the old edifice.
The latter had been made titular in 1965 by Blessed Pope Paul VI, but oddly the new title had been left vacant. It was transferred to the new church when it was built. The first cardinal deacon was Mario Francesco Pompedda, appointed in 2001 and incardinated in the new church. He died in 2006, and the title was left vacant again until 2012 when Domenico Calcagno was appointed.
It should be noted that the cardinalate title is not the same as the name of the church: Annunciazione della Beata Maria Vergine in Via Ardeatina.
Layout and fabric
The church is set back from the street, and lacks a civic presence. However, the surface of the driveway and entrance piazza is laid with a striking candy-striped pattern in red, grey and white. Follow the stripes to get to the entrance!
The church itself is a white concrete building on a rectangular plan, with its roof having two zones divided by a transverse line about halfway to the altar. The roof of the entrance half is low and flat, but the altar half has the roof sloping up to the wall behind the altar. This back section of roof has three large rectangular skylights in its left hand side, one behind the other. Further lighting is provided by window strips below the eaves in the side walls.
A subsidiary block containing sacristies and parish accommodation is attached to the right hand side of the church.
The façade is rather straightforward, with white concrete below and a deep strip of window below the roofline. The wall is supported by five matching concrete slab buttresses with sloping tops incurved in a quarter-circle, and the main entrance is on the left hand side between buttresses one and two. The roof overhangs the façade to create a large horizontal canopy.
The rather low interior is mostly in yellow, with a flat white ceiling and a floor in light grey stone. However, clever use of colour in specific areas gives interest.
The sanctuary is raised on three steps, and the free-standing altar incorporates an old Baroque frontal with a curlicued pattern around a central cross. Behind, the president's chair is approached by three stairs in black. Above, a mid grey panel running to the ceiling gives backing to a traditional painted wooden hanging crucifix.
To the left of the altar the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, in a tall niche painted orange-red. The circular bronze tabernacle itself is inserted into a limestone panel in the shape of a tall step-pyramid, rather like the outline of a ziggurat.
To the right of the altar is the baptistery, with a low zone behind it in blue, including stained glass.
The parish now uses the old church of L’Annunziatella as its ferial chapel, in effect, and calls it the Chiesa piccola. Weekday Masses are celebrated here. The new church is the Chiesa grande, and Mass is celebrated here on Sundays and Solemnities.
Mass is celebrated:
Weekdays (Chiesa piccola): 7:30 (not July, August), 9:00 (not August), 18:00 (not Saturdays, 19:00 from June to 15 September).
Sundays and Solemnities (Chiesa grande): 18:00 (Saturdays, 19:00 in summer), 7:30 (not August), 9:00, 10:00 (not July to 15 September), 11:00, 12:00, 18:00 (19:00, June to 15 September).