The Potentiality for Modern Roman Basilica Styled Churches as Seen in Santa Croce in Via Flaminia

Normally when one goes to Rome, one naturally looks for the ancient churches -- and why wouldn't you after all? Going to Rome and not focusing in on the treasures of its ancient basilicas and sites would be a bit like travelling there and looking only for fast food chains rather than partaking in Rome's trattorias and ristorantes.  However, there are indeed some modern structures worth a look, particularly if you're a student of architecture looking for inspiration in how one might adopt ancient styles within contemporary structures in other locales. One such example is perhaps that of Santa Croce in Via Flaminia -- which also happens to be the mother church in Rome of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George

The church was only built in the early part of the twentieth century with construction starting in 1913. The architect was Aristide Leonori and the patron was none other than St. Pius X himself. The church was erected in honour of the 1600th anniversary of Constantine's legalization of Christianity in the Roman empire.  While there are certainly stylistic cues that point to the structure's contemporary origins, nonetheless it is also defined by the sort of continuity that leads one to ask themselves, "is this an ancient church that has been updated, or is this a new church made to more ancient?" The fact that one has to ask themselves such questions is, to my mind, a good sign for it means that the building is one rooted in continuity and tradition, balancing antiquity with contemporaneity. 

The basic bones of the building include windows with decorative transennae, exterior mosaic decoration, a medieval Romanesque style belltower (campanile) and a portico with a dedicatory script.  The cues that give away some of the modern origins of the construction include the style of the mosaic decoration, the manner in which the dedicatory script is executed and the overall rectangular proportions and shape of the building (which is better observed from the side and rear).

The interior shows a bit more of the contemporary origins of the building as one can tell it is clearly 'new'. The form, however, is of a classically basilica nature, with its triple nave lined by columns, its open-timber trussed ceiling, its altar and ciborium, framed behind by its apse. More 'modern' in style are the pulpit and of course the lectern -- the latter of which is no doubt a post-conciliar addition.  The inclusion of the tabernacle on the high altar is another clue as to the modernity of the building as is the pavement of the church. 

Ambo  / Pulpit


While in the context of Rome there is of nothing particularly remarkable or noteworthy about the church of course, within other contexts it would absolutely stand out. That is why, to my mind, it can present a good object lesson for parishes, pastors, diocesan building committees, students of architecture and ecclesiastical art, in how the classical style might be adopted to very great effect.

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