Cappella del Collegio Diocesano Redemptoris Mater is a later 20th century seminary chapel at Via della Tenuta della Maglianella 88, in the Casalotti zone.
The dedication of the institution is to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her aspect of the Mother of the Redeemer.
The seminary is located in the territory of the diocese of Porto Santa Rufina, but is affiliated to that of Rome.
The seminary was established in 1988, as the first of the Redemptoris Mater seminaries under the aegis of the Neocatechumenal Way. The rationale is that priests are trained for diocesan ministry, but according to the principles of the Way and not in a diocesan seminary. The emphasis is on the requirements of the New Evangelisation.
The number of Redemptoris Mater seminaries is now well over a hundred worldwide.
The seminary complex was finished in 1992. Twenty five years later, in 2017, a major remodelling of the chapel took place.
Original chapel exterior Edit
The 1988 chapel was basically a red brick box, hiding a concrete frame. The side walls each had a row of thirty vertically rectangular slit windows, sitting on an exposed concrete sill beam. In contrast, each had a separate concrete block sill. The windows were separated by brick pilasters.
Below the sill beam for the first twenty-seven windows on each side was a structural side aisle with a flat roof and parapet. These two aisles abutted adjacent buildings.
The aisle rooflines concealed a second wall beam below the sill beam, and these two beams appeared running round the front and back of the chapel as parallel stripes. In front were nine windows in the same style, and below the middle three of these a wide flat-roofed entrance corridor met the chapel portal. This corridor had a pair of semi-circular apses facing each other halfway along it.
The sanctuary end of the chapel had six windows instead of nine, since the central third of this wall was taken up by a right-angled triangular apse reaching the full height, with no windows and a single pilaster on each diagonal face. The side walls had a pair of windows near the end wall, almost square and rather low down.
The flat roof of the chapel had a tall parapet pierced by fifteen pairs of vertical rectangular apertures down each side, each with its own concrete sill. These were separated by the tops of the wall pilasters. The façade had nine such pairs.
On the roof at the far end was a sort-of dome in the form of a very low square pyramid aligned diaper, with its side corners touching the parapet. The overhanging eaves of this concealed very thin window strips.
Original chapel interior Edit
The original interior was rather gloomy. The red brick of the outside also featured on the inside. The short, low flat-roofed side aisles each had a massive concrete lintel beam supported by a square brick pier separating the space into two units like side chapels.
The windows had clear glass.
The roof had exposed concrete slab beams, thin but deep, arranged in diaper squares.
The altar was in the middle of the chapel, with seating arranged down the side wall and facing across (the "collegiate layout"). It was a large square slab in white marble containing black inlaid horizontal stripes in its side edges. This mensa was on a cuboidal pedestal with vertical stripes, and stood on a square single-step platform in red marble, the rest of the floor being in a bluish green.
The far end of the chapel, the traditional site of the sanctuary in a church, was occupied by the seating for thirteen celebrants, a larger central chair in white marble with a black inverted U in its back. The six seats on each side were backed by a single marble slab with six smaller U's. This set of seats stood on a red marble platform with two steps (that is, higher than the altar), which had its first step extended in the middle to form a lower platform. A lectern (ambo) in polychrome stonework stood on this.
This liturgical layout was subject to criticism, as not being in conformity with the traditions of the Roman rite.
The triangular apse behind the principal celebrant's chair contained the large tabernacle, in white marble decorated with bronze angels. Above was a large traditional crucifix, the corpus being painted.
The lighting consisted of two longitudinal rows of massive hanging chandeliers, each consisting of vertical cylindrical lighting elements assembled like a bunch of grapes.
There was a gallery over the entrance, with a solid concrete frontage.
There is a separate and free-standing tower campanile, consisting of a tall concrete slab with a vertical square frame on top containing the bells. The slab is buttressed by another slab attached to one side, and this has its edges incut so as to create three long vertical steps. A large metal cross finial is fixed to it with two brackets.
New chapel exterior Edit
The 2017 make-over entailed the demolition of the far wall, with its apse, and the end of the side walls. This reduced the number of side wall windows to twenty-eight in each side.
Then a new transeptal sanctuary was added. This is a huge brick box, almost one and a half times the height of the original chapel, and as wide as it with the external side aisles. The bricks used are the same variety as in the original chapel. The otherwise blank brickwork is decorated with very thin, regularly spaced vertical pilasters running the full height.
A wide window strip runs the full height of each side wall, and each of these is covered by a metal herringbone grille pointing downwards.
There is no structural back wall as such. Instead, a huge free-standing screen wall stands slightly back from the line of the roof, and the spaces between it, the ends of the side walls and the roof are filled with wide, diagonally aligned window strips in clear glass. The fenestration is divided by metal bar mullions, which also help to support the screen wall.
New chapel interior Edit
The interior of the original chapel was completely remodelled in 2017. The brick walls were revetted in what looks like pale grey marble, and the side windows blocked up. Only seven of the façade windows were left open, too. The concrete frontage of the gallery was done out in red, and the floor in blue. A ceiling in dark red was inserted to cover the roof coffering, and the chandeliers were removed.
The new apse, created by the back screen wall and its bounding window strips, was provided with a two-step platform in white marble, with a one-step extension attached to the front. The lectern was placed on the top step of the former, facing the altar which was brought from the middle of the chapel and placed on the latter. This answered some of the criticisms of the former liturgical layout.
The crucifix in the original apse is now in the right end of the sanctuary.
The most spectacular feature of the new sanctuary is the enormous fresco on the apse screen wall. This is by the Spanish artist David López, and is in a very correct Byzantine iconic style. Twelve separate scenes of events of Redemption surround two central scenes, all being on a gilded background.
The twelve scenes read from left to right, bottom to top:
The Annunciation, The Nativity, The Baptism of Christ, The Transfiguration;
The Entry Into Jerusalem, The Last Supper;
The Crucifixion, The Deposition from the Cross:
The Resurrection, The Finding of the Empty Tomb;
The Appearance to the Disciples in the Upper Room; The Ascension; Pentecost; The Dormition of Our Lady.
The central two scenes are:
Top, The Deesis (Christ in glory, accompanied by Our Lady, St John the Baptist and angels);
Bottom, The Trinity, accompanied by SS Peter and Paul.
The last scene is interesting, because it mutates from the received iconic tradition familiar from the Trinity by Rublev. This shows the three angels receiving hospitality from the patriarch Abraham at the terebinth of Mamre, anciently regarded as a scriptural manifestation of the Trinity. However, López's version differentiates the three angels according to the persons of the Trinity. Christ the Son of God is obviously in the middle, God the Father as an old man is on the right (a purely Western iconic tradition), and the Holy Spirit is a female angel on the left. This is because the words for "spirit" in Greek and Latin have a feminine grammatical gender -female angels are not part of any old iconographic tradition.