Friday, July 30, 2010

Santa Maddalena di Canossa

Santa Maddalena di Canossa: Built 1992-97
Architect: Giovanni Ambrosi de Magistris

At the same time that the "garage" church of Sant'Ilirio was being renovated, a new parish was formed about 1km north, Santa Maddalena di Canossa.

The interior seats about 600 people and it is a very successful architectural space for the community celebration of the Eucharist. (For a dozen years the priests have been able to keep the church free of clutter. I wish other modern churches could do that!)

From wherever one sits, there is a sense
of being close to the action of the liturgy.
The soaring concrete, wood and steel construction
helps the worshipper "lift up their hearts."

The external design of the church is an
interesting addition to the neighborhood.

The rectory and parish activity rooms
are connected to the church structure.

The church is in a residential neighborhood
and shares a parking lot with a multiplex cinema.

A Church in a Garage

In 1977 the parish of Sant' Illario di Poitiers began in a parking garage in the zone of Ottavia, about 20 km from the city center, just inside the GRA or "ring road." The area started as a rural township after World War II, and construction has never stopped! Today the zone has over 20,000 people in 4 sq. km. The church was renovated in 1992 and today it is a "feast for the eyes."
This is the view of the neighborhood
looking southwest from where I parked the car.

This is the view looking northeast, including McDonald's.

When approaching the church I was first greeted by a large banner welcoming kids to the parish recreational facilities, the "oratorio."

This is the entrance ramp to the "garage" church, under an apartment building that houses the parish center on the first floor.

When entering the church you come upon a cross-shaped, step down baptismal pool.
Beyond the pool is a large square altar, and every surface, top and sides, is covered with painted images.
At the far end is the presider's chair.

An area for daily liturgies and eucharistic reservation
is to the right of the baptismal pool when you enter.

The only windows in the space are along the entrance ramp, and together with the doors, they have images made of etched and colored glass.
It is difficult to comprehend all of the images and symbolism in one visit. Different artists have worked to cover every inch of space in this "garage."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Villa Farnesina

The Villa Farnesina on the bank of the Tiber River in Trastevere is one of the hidden gems of Rome. Very few tourists find their way to this Renaissance 16th century home of Agostino Chigi, a banker from Siena. This month I was back there again with my Italian language class.

One of the ceilings depicts the position of the stars
at the moment Agostino Chigi was born.

Vulcan, the god of fire, was often painted on fireplace walls

This fresco by Raphael is one of the villa's masterpieces.

We were surprised to find the Room of the Frieze opened after being closed for many years while it was being restored. This part of the frieze shows the labors of Hercules. It is reported that if you needed a loan from Mr. Chigi, you sat at a table facing him with the mighty accomplishments of Hercules over his head. (He was a man of power!)

To see my previous posting about this villa CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

La Scala Sancta

A medieval tradition claims that La Scala Sancta (adjacent to the Lateran Palace) was a staircase in Jerusalem that Jesus climbed up when he went to the house of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. St. Helena is credited with bringing these steps to Rome in the 4th century. (She is called "the great mover of relics" in Lucentini's guide book to Rome.)
For centuries, La Scala Santa has attracted Christian pilgrims who wished to honor the Passion of Jesus. It consists of 28 marble steps and all who wish to ascend must go on their knees.

Note: Pope Pius IX climbed La Scala Sancta on his knees on September 19, 1870, as a plea for God's protection on the day before the Italian troops entered Rome. (The Pope was 78 years old.)a

All You Need is Wall

During the month of June there was a mural project on the walls of some public housing buildings in Garbatella.
The "All You Need Is Wall" theme is repeated along this sidewalk.
These pictures were taken just before the images came down.
You can CLICK HERE to see the earlier posting about this project.

Before the Popemobile

In the Lateran Palace one can see some of the different ways that the "modern" Popes have travelled before the Popemobile.
Pope Sixtus V (1585-90) riding on horseback
as shown in a Lateran Palace fresco.
The sedan of Pope Pius IX (1846-1878)
The sedan of Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903)
The sedan of Pope John XXIII (1958-1963)

The immediate precursor to the popemobile was the sedia gestatoria. Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) was the last to use it regularly. Pope John Paul I objected to its use, but was convinced it was necessary for people to see him. Pope John Paul II refused to use it. This pictures includes the red uniform worn by the twelve palafrenieri (footmen) who carried the chair as well as one of the two flabella (fans of ostrich feathers) that were on either side of the Pope when was carried in state on the sedia gestatoria to or from the altar or audience chamber.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Garbatella Urban Gardens

Last Spring I noticed that people were working in a field down the street from our apartment in Garbatella. They were preparing garden plots. This happened with support from the Province of Rome and the Municipality XI who decided to reclassify some of the green space along the Via Cristoforo Colombo and make it accessible to the public.This is the first community garden to be built in Rome. There are hopes that these initial fifteen plots will be a model of how self-grown organic fruits and vegetables can be available at low cost as well as demonstrating how a community can come together to redevelop abandoned or unused parcels of land. The founders also see the community garden as a place to initiate new social relationships, fostering support networks between families and bridging the gap between the young and older generations.
A scarecrow among the tomatoes.
(You can see the blue water tanks along the fence.)
Peppers and Eggplant
Melons waiting to be ready for prosciutto!
Corn growing in Garbatella
I took these pictures on what would have been my mother's 99th birthday. She was a great gardener.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

La Notte di Caravaggio

Today is the 400th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, one of the greatest painters of the 17th Century. To mark the occasion, some churches in Rome and the Galleria Borshese we opened from 9pm last night until 9am this morning.
It was nearly midnight and we were winding around parked cars to visit the Church of Sant' Agostino near Piazza Navona.
After we entered the church we stood in front of one of my favorite paintings by Caravaggio, Madonna with Pilgrims (1604), while an art historian provided commentary.
It was after 1 am when we found ourselves with Caravaggio's three masterpieces in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, including the Calling of St. Matthew (1600) and St. Matthew and the Angel (1602).