Romanesque Revival in Rome: Santa Maria Addolorata a piazza Buenos Aires

If one wishes to see how to make a new building look and feel antique, then one need look no further than the Roman church of Santa Maria Addolorata a piazza Buenos Aires (and if one is in Rome, one  must make certain to specify "a piazza Buenos Aires" as there is another "Santa Maria Addolorata" in Rome, in that case a contemporary church buiding built around the year 2000). As regards the particular Santa Maria Addolorata we are interested in, that situated on Piazza Buenos Aires, while it too is relatively modern in its origins, it was built to have the look and feel of an early Christian basilica. 

The church in question is the Argentinian national church and was founded by the Argentinian, Msgr. José León Gallardo. Construction on the church lasted from 1910 until 1930 and the architect of record for the project was Giuseppe Astorri. As part of his design, he included an impressive bell tower that the average passer-by could be forgiven if they mistook for being medieval. 

The facade itself is similarly antique in its look and feel, complete with a decorated facade by Giovanni Battisti Conti showing a depiction of the Lamb and the Seven Seals of Revelation surrounded by symbols of the Four Evangelists. Beneath are seen four date palm trees and twelve lambs, representing the twelve apostles. It is worth noting that in terms of the mosaics and other such depictions in the church, there was no attempt to create any faux primitivism. Rather, the stylistic manner of the depictions are recognizable to their own time, but the template from which it is drawn comes from the Italo-Byzantine tradition. 

The decorated facade continues downward to the entrance of the church which also includes two Ionic columns and beautiful marble revetments in the portico. Ancient style transennae were used for the windows (the windows themselves being made of alabaster rather than glass). Above the main door are two peacocks -- popular paleochristian symbols of eternal life.

To round out our considerations of the exterior, here is a view from the back, looking at what would be the outside of the apse.

Turning to the interior, we will find more of the same. The template is that of a Roman basilica, complete with an open timber, trussed ceiling, a central nave lined by columns and two side naves going down either side of these. An ancient, cosmatesque style ambo is likewise to be found, along with a balustrade separating the presbyterium from the nave. A ciborium covers the high altar and marble revetments clothe the apsidal walls behind the altar. 

Found high above are the paintings on the triumphal arch showing a depiction of Christ surrounded by various saints. In the apse we find a depiction of the Pieta, likewise by Giovanni Battisti Conti. It is the style and content of these depictions which most show the church's contemporary origins. 

Santa Maria Addolorata a piazza Buenos Aires is certainly a church worth stopping by if you happen to be in the neighbourhood -- and most certainly it is a project that ought to be considered by aspiring young architects and artists who are considering the pursuit of revival forms of liturgical art and architecture. 

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