The church of Santa Maria Liberatrice stands on land purchased by the Holy See during the pontificate of Leo XIII (1878-1903), to erect a large building of worship. However, its construction dates back to the early twentieth century, when Pope Pius X entrusted the construction of the parish church first to the Benedictines and then definitively to the Salesians who were already present in the neighborhood. The Pope wanted this new church to be particularly linked to the memory of the Roman population, and for this reason he gave it the title of Santa Maria Liberatrice, which had belonged to the church of the same name built in the thirteenth century over the ruins of Santa Maria Antiqua al Foro and restored by Onorio Longhi in 1617. He also gave her a very old fresco representing the image of Sancta Maria Libera nos a poenis inferni.
The church, in neo-Romanesque style, built in brick and travertine, was designed by the architect Mario Ceradini; the imposing façade is divided into three arched portals with travertine slabs. The central one is decorated in the upper part by two large circles of marble called "African", by a multi-lancet window and by mosaics dominating the coats of arms of Pius X. The upper mosaic represents the Crucifixion, with Christ dressed and with open eyes, the Maddalena and San Giovanni; behind them are two soldiers, one with a sponge and the other with a spear. The lower mosaic, rebuilt in 1924, represents the Virgin Mary between Saints Peter and Paul; palm trees and symbolic rivers adorn the depictions. The interior of the church is divided into three naves; the flooring of the central nave is decorated with a black and white mosaic with fragments of marble with depictions of geometric elements and zodiac symbols.
The history of the church is summarized by this inscription placed inside: "This church perpetuates the cult of S. Maria Liberatrice inheriting the title and icons of the homonymous church which was demolished from the 16th century to the year MDCCCXCIX kept the place and the memories of Santa Maria antiqua, the first sanctuary of the mother of God in the world ".
Photo credits: courtesy of Church of Santa Maria Liberatrice in Testaccio official site
Monte dei Cocci
Emporium - Ancient river port of Testaccio
Widespread Museum of Testaccio
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