Cappella del Pontificio Collegio Internazionale Maria Mater Ecclesiae is a late 20th century college chapel at Largo Girolamo Minervini 3 in the Aurelio suburban district.

The college is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her aspect of "Mother of the Church".

History[edit | edit source]

The College is the Roman seminary of the Legionaries of Christ, founded at Cuernavaca in Mexico in 1941 by the (now posthumously disgraced) Fr Marcial Maciel.

The Legionaries survived a serious scandal when its founder was exposed as a predatory sexual abuser, and new Constitutions were approved in 2014. They now have a substantial presence in Rome, with the Diocese counting 123 members present in 2018. See also Nostra Signora di Guadalupe e San Filippo Martire in Via Aurelia and Cappella del "Highlands Institute", both under their charge, and Cappella dei Legionari di Cristo belonging to their Generalate.

The College was established in 1991, and had its first premises in Castel di Guido. A purpose-built campus just off the Via Aurelia was completed in 2005.

Exterior[edit | edit source]

Layout[edit | edit source]

The college consists of two long parallel four-storey flat roofed blocks, all in pink brick (the reinforced concrete frameworks do not show. They are connected by single-storey units inserted in between, including a glass-fronted entrance atrium to the east which occupies the entire available width. The internal entrance to the chapel is under the projecting flat roof of this to the right.

The chapel is attached to the east end of the northern block, and is on the plan of a chamfered square. The major axis is on the south-west to north-east diagonal, from the entrance just mentioned to the sanctuary. The south-east corner has an external entrance.

Fabric[edit | edit source]

The chapel is a pink brick box with a flat roof, the walls forming a parapet. It is the equivalent of four storeys high, but this includes an attic space over the chapel proper. The edifice also stands over a below-ground crypt, which emerges to the east side because of a slope in the ground.

Each of the three exposed sides is treated in the same way. The fine brickwork of the wall stands on a concrete plinth, and is topped by a thin projecting beam that runs around the entire chapel. This beam is the anchor support of the chapel ceiling inside. Above, the attic storey wall just slightly overhangs the main wall below. The attic wall has a very low arcade of nine blind brick arches, over recessed panels in white and separated by ten low concrete piers each in the form of a cube topped by a tall triangular pyramid. These piers stand on the horizontal ceiling beam.

The nine arches top a matching set of nine vertical zones in the main wall, separated by blind brick pilasters which hide concrete support piers. Four of these zones are blank, interspersing the five others each of which have a tall, narrow fenestration. Each fenestration consists of a lower, short rectangular window and an upper, very tall one with a slightly up-curving lintel. The pair of windows are separated by a square limestone bas-relief panel featuring a sacred personage.

The windows are not glazed, but contain sheets of alabaster.

The public entrance, at the south-east corner (the right hand corner in the chapel's orientation). features a completely unadorned brick portal accessed by a flight of steps. Over it is a large rectangular mosaic panel depicting Mater Ecclesiae.

The flat roof has a pepper-pot lantern which penetrates the attic storey to cast light on the main altar.

Interior[edit | edit source]

The interior is aligned to the sanctuary in the north-east corner. The interior of this corner is rounded to create an apse, and this is in gilded mosaic. Otherwise, the wall surfaces are in white. Each side has ten grey ribbed pilasters standing on a low plinth with a beaded top edge, and these support a ceiling entablature having a white frieze between matching grey architrave and cornice. The ceiling has a large circular lantern aperture over the altar, which has a ring-beam fitting into the apse curve, and from this the wide ceiling beams radiate forward.

The floor is in light tan, except along the main axis where there is a row of large squares in grey-veined Carrara marble. The sanctuary is marked by a single-step quarter-circle platform in black marble, leading to a second step on which the altar stands. The latter has an alabaster mensa on a cuboidal plinth having its edges stepped.

The Stations of the Cross occupy the spaces between the lower and upper windows. They are in what looks like polychrome enamel panels, in a realistic style. The tabernacle, behind the altar, has a door in the same style depicting The Supper at Emmaus.

Above the tabernacle is a large traditional-style crucifix, with an oversized unpainted corpus in a light-coloured wood which contrasts with the darker-coloured cross. The apse is flanked by statues of St Joseph (right) and the Immaculate Conception (left) in the same style.

External links[edit | edit source]

Official diocesan web-page for Legionaries

College website

Info.roma web-page

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