Cappella dei Fratelli Cristiani d'Irlanda is a deconsecrated later 20th century convent chapel at Via della Maglianella 375 in the Casalotti zone.

The chapel was in the city of Rome, but in the territory of the diocese of Porto Santa Rufina.

The chapel is being used by the Scientology sect, although whether this makes it a place of worship is debatable.

History Edit

The "Congregation of the Christian Brothers" is a native Irish religious congregation, founded at Waterford by a merchant of that city, Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice, in 1802. The aim was to set up a congregation of unordained men who would be wholly devoted to teaching boys.

This was a good idea, but one that had occurred to others already. Especially, there has been historical confusion with the De La Salle Brothers who were already known as the "Christian Brothers" although their proper title is "Brothers of the Christian Schools". So, the Irish congregation has usually been known as the "Irish Christian Brothers" outside Ireland.

The congregation had a fertile apostolate in Ireland, where education for Catholics was neglected. They also found themselves in demand in the Irish diaspora, especially in England, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. Their first presence at Rome was from 1900, where they opened the Istituto Marcantonio Colonna in the rione Prati.

Their high point was in 1967, when around 5 000 taught in over 600 schools. Optimistically, the congregation entered into a project to build a huge new Generalate (headquarters) at Rome which was finished in 1970. Th was known as the Istituto Marcantonio Colonna

The subsequent collapse of the congregation has been spectacular. Credible allegations of sexual abuse and cruelty emerged in the late 20th century, some of them involving grotesquely evil behaviour. The number of Brothers is now (2019) is dropping below 1 000, and they are almost extinct in Ireland.

The Generalate was closed in 1997, and sold. Incredibly, the premises were then acquired by the Scientologists who re-opened them as their Rome outlet in 2009.

Exterior Edit

This is a huge and high-quality convent complex, consisting of two large three-storey ranges set parallel some distance from one another, and two further wide two-storey ranges connecting them and enclosing a courtyard garden. Who was the architect?

The complex is on a countryside site, surrounded by fields and approached by a long drive. This reaches the main entrance at the south end of the eastern main block, and the separate chapel abuts this range within the sweep of the driveway just north of the entrance on the eastern side.

A design feature involves vertical semi-cylinders in red brick, with their open ends facing outwards. These feature in the rather complicated chapel fabric.

The plan of the chapel is that of a very broad spear-point. with two shorter diagonal sides flanking the entrance and two longer ones flanking the sanctuary. Each shorter side has two of these semi-cylinders, facing inwards. Each of the longer sides has three of them, facing outwards. The effect is striking. The outward facing ones are taller than the inward facing ones. The roof is flat, below the tops of the semi-cylinders and sloping up to accommodate the difference in their heights. Over the altar is a small hemispherical lantern dome, on a low cylindrical drum.

Interior Edit

The interior still resembles a Christian chapel.

The red brick of the semi-cylinders is left exposed. In between them are vertical strips of brightly coloured stained glass in abstract patterns, including one behind the altar, and a broader pair of such strips flanks the entrance.

The interiors of the four inwardly facing semi-cylinders are vertically ribbed.

The concrete roof is left with its shuttering marks showing, these forming a surprisingly attractive radial pattern focusing on the lantern above the altar. This has a shallow floating cylinder, in white, protruding down from the roof. The floor tiles are laid in a similar pattern.

The sanctuary has a circular platform in cream-coloured stone, with three steps. The original altar seems to be the one here, which has a thick slab mensa on an hourglass-shaped pedestal in the same stone.

Obviously all Christian symbols have been removed -the cross on display is NOT the Christian cross.

External links Edit

(Those interested in Scientology can find their own links.)

Info.roma web-page (the address is wrong.)

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