Cappella del Pontificio Collegio San Paolo is a mid 20th century college chapel with a postal address at Via di Torre Rossa 40 in the Aurelio suburban zone. The locality is called Val Cannuta, and the college's entrance driveway has its own name -Piazza Monsignore Guerucci Cesare.
The dedication of the institution is to St Paul the Apostle.
The college's full title is Pontificio Collegio Missionario Internazionale San Paolo Apostolo. It began as an offshoot of the much older Pontificio Collegio Urbano de Propaganda Fide, itself founded in 1627 to train missionaries to work in regions where Christianity was not yet established.
As a result of massive expansion of demand, a new complex was built in 1965 on a fresh site by the partnership of Clemente and Saverio Busiri Vici, father and son. This was the Pontificio Collegio Urbano Filosofico de Propaganda Fide, offering courses in philosophy rather than theology.
The initiative did not work -numbers applying quickly dipped, owing to the upheavals in the Roman Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council. The campus was closed down in 1974, after only eight years, and the very expensive complex transferred to the DIocese to be run as a pilgrim centre and hostel called Villa Emmaus.
In 1977, Propaganda Fidei decided to reclaim the property and re-open it as a separate residential complex for overseas students for the priesthood studying at the various ecclesiastical educational establishments at Rome. Especially targeted were Third World dioceses lacking educational resources of their own, in the hope that those studying at Rome would become the foci of improvements in these areas back home.
(The Italian word Collegio is a false friend in English. In the latter language it usually means a place of higher education, a school or a sub-unit of a university. In Italian, it usually means a hall of residence for students.)
This is an impressive complex, across the road from Santa Maria della Visitazione all'Aurelio.
Two very long four-storey blocks run parallel to each other on a zig-zag line with two angles. These are connected by a single-storey range with its ends opposite the two main entrances halfway along the middle line of each zig-zag. This range includes an entrance foyer for the chapel, which is perpendicular to it.
The overall fabric consists of reinforced concrete framing, much of which is left showing, and deep pink brick infill.
The chapel is church-sized, with a structural basilical plan consisting of a central nave with side aisles. The nave has eight bays, and the aisle-less sanctuary one and a half. The concrete framework marks off the bays in the central nave side walls, each bay having a triangular-topped frame.
The roofs are pitched, the central one being steep. This roof has its middle section along its major axis raised above a dormer window strip running the entire length in each pitch.
The far wall of the sanctuary has a large window in the form of a T with the cross-bar as a horizontally stretched hexagon, the result looking rather like a key held vertically. The central nave walls of the fifth to seventh nave bays each have a similar window in each side. The angles between the nave and sanctuary are chamfered, and these diagonal walls each have a triangular-headed window with a deep sill.
The frontage is occupied by a flat-roofed three-storey presbyteral block, which rises to above the level of the side aisle roofs. This has its concrete frame showing, with five huge triangular-topped frames below the roofline. Above, the near end of the chapel rises up with a horizontally stretched hexagonal window in stained glass. The top gable is given a decorative ogee, made up of straight lines and so not curved.