Cappella dei Fratelli Maristi is a mid 20th-century private convent chapel at Piazzale Marcello Champagnat 2 in the EUR quarter.
Their presence in Rome was given a high profile in the Fifties when a major project providing two large convents was entered into. The first of these was a school with a notable public chapel, San Leone Magno dei Fratelli Maristi, which was founded in 1956. In 1958 the architect of this, Enrico Lenti, oversaw the construction of a huge Generalate (headquarters) for the congregation, including another large chapel.
The chapel is private, and is not listed by the Diocese as a public place of worship. However, it is a notable building and worthy of more attention.
Layout and fabric Edit
The chapel is unfortunately invisible from the street.
In plan it consists of a large hexagonal sanctuary, to which is attached a chevron-shaped nave. The inner angle of the chevron fits into one of those of the hexagon, with the width of the nave being slightly less than the chord between the two adjacent angles of the hexagon. Hence, there are short vertical strips of external wall between these two angles and the nave.
The exterior walls are in what looks like finely cut yellowish-brown tufo stone blocks, although the frame of the structure is in reinforced concrete. The walls are mostly blank, and have convent buildings abutting against them for most of the right hand side except near the entrance. These structures are lower than the chapel, with flat roofs. The roof of the nave is also flat.
A pair of monumental vertical window slits, occupying the entire height of the wall and within a double concrete frame, is near the bottom end of each nave side wall.
The frontage consists of two almost square blank walls on the diagonals of the chevron, flanking an enormous open portal reaching as high as the roofline. The latter here is occupied by a concrete V-beam laid to occupy the top angle of the chevron.
The hexagonal sanctuary has a window strip below the roofline on all six sides, over and recessed behind a concrete cornice that crowns the walls. Above this fenestration is the spectacular and enormous spired roof-lantern, in light grey. This has three storeys.
The first storey has twelve pitches, comprising six large triangles alternating with six smaller, almost equilateral ones which have their bottom points on the corners of the hexagon of the sanctuary. The upper edges of these smaller triangles form a smaller hexagon which is the base for the second storey, the lantern proper.
The second storey consists of six large trapezoidal windows, recessed in vertical frames which are separated by V-gullies. These gullies continue up the third storey to the spire, and in this storey are separated by triangular pitches forming a hexagonal cap. The spire itself consists of six vertical flanges melding into a little crowning cylinder bearing a metal cross finial.
The interior has its walls revetted in travertine limestone slabs, and is dominated by the white inside of the lantern roof of the sanctuary. The altar stands beneath the lantern, and on the far wall behind it is a large polychrome relief sculpture.