Cappella del Collegio Pio Latino Americano is a later 20th century college chapel at Via Aurelia Antica 408 in the Aurelio suburban district.
The Pontifical Latin American College was founded by the Jesuits in 1858, in order to train clergy for the republics of South America. It had small beginnings in a house next to the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle, but in the following year it moved to larger premises owned by the Dominicans at Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
After success in attracting candidates, the college moved to part of the Jesuit noviciate at Sant'Andrea al Quirinale in 1867. It was almost expelled when the noviciate was sequestered by the Italian government in 1873, but received a stay of eviction until new quarters could be found. It was decided to provide purpose-built premises in the new district of Prati, which were begun in 1884. The college was able to move into them in 1887. The church of Santa Maria Immacolata al Collegio Pio Latino Americano was finished in the following year.
The College moved out to a site on the Via Aurelia in the suburbs in 1962, and the Prati complex was subsequently demolished. An apartment block stands on the site.
The new complex was apparently hated, and only eight years later the College moved again, to its present site, in 1972. The failed premises were sold to the Carabinieri -see Cappella della Scuola Ufficiale dei Carabinieri.
The interior was refitted in 1994, by the firm Acale.
The Jesuits remain in charge.
The college occupies a straightforward five-storey L-shaped block, with the long range facing the street and a short wing running back to the right. The chapel is attached to the back at the left end, completing three sides of a square. It has a straightforward rectangular plan, with a narrower sacristy block attached to the back.
The chapel is a pink brick box, having a flat roof with overhanging box eaves forming a low parapet. The sacristy block has its own flat roof, substantially lower. A lower but wide and short connecting range links the chapel to the main college block.
The brick walls are not load-bearing.
The fenestration consists of a deep horizontal window strip running all round the chapel below the eaves. This is joined by four matching vertical strips running to the ground on each side, one near the entrance and three spaced regularly at the far end.
The chapel interior has a collegiate layout, with seating facing each other down the side. The altar is central, and is also faced by seating at the near and far ends. Thus, there is no separate sanctuary area.
The plan of the chapel is actually basilical. Narrow side aisles are separated from the central nave by bright white transversely rectangular concrete piers, which actually support the roof and divide the interior into six bays. The central roof is concealed by a bright white ceiling, which curves down at either side at the tops of the pilasters to form a sort of vault.
The walls are in pink brick, just as outside. The four window strips down each side, behind the pilasters separating the first and second bays, and the fourth to sixth bays, are flanked by screen walls in the same style which come across as far as the pilasters and enclose them. The tops of these walls have fenestration in the exact same style as the tops of the side walls, in a single row of rectangular panes of clear glass.
The floor is in red marble tiles, except for a strip down the major axis which has a pattern of differently sized rectangles in a cream colour in front of the altar. This is interrupted by the single-stepped square platform of the altar, and continues on the far side of the platform as three broad stripes to the ambo or lectern at the far end.
The varnished wooden seating is in two rows down the sides, one row at the back and one at the front. The latter includes the president's chair, which is on a small platform. The other seating is in the form of benches, but each seating place has its own separate back support which has a split down the middle. The seating supports of the outer side rows and the front row are embellished on their backs with truncated triangles in a paler wood bearing a pine tree motif.
The altar platform is also in a creamy colour, but the rather high step is embellished with mosaic work in the form of square panels showing either a vine leaf or a stylized bunch of grapes. The altar itself has a marble mensa with an incurved edge, sitting on a square pedestal. Each side of the pedestal has three nested rectangular recessed panels, the surfaces (not the edges) of which are in gold mosaic. Each side of the mensa also has a square panel with a dot-and-cross motif.
As well as the altar, the altar platform has two cubical marble candlestick bases standing together in the top left corner, and bearing tall tubular bronze lamp-holders. Above the altar, in the otherwise white ceiling, is a little octagonal dome covered by a rayed multi-coloured mosaic. From the top of this dome hangs a gilded cable bearing a metal cross which hangs over the altar.
The back row of seating is interrupted by the ambo or lectern, in a pale tan marble embellished with little mosaic roses and with a central vertical stripe in gilded mosaic. It is approached by transverse steps on either side, having solid balustrades with sloping tops which back the seating here.
Behind the lectern is a large panel in the same marble, bearing a mosaic representation of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is flanked by two more panels of similar size on each side, which are stepped back and bear motifs of green leaves and red roses.