Cappella dell'Istituto San Luigi is an earlier 20th century convent chapel at Via Trionfale 7515, which is in the Trionfale quarter.
The dedication of the convent is to St Louis IX.
The edifice amounts to a church, and could easily serve an inner-suburban parish. However, the Diocese seems to consider it as not having been consecrated formally -it refers to it as a cappella.
There is no public liturgical activity, and it is not clear whether Mass is now being celebrated here with regularity.
The "Sisters of Providence and of the Immaculate Conception" (French, Sœurs de la Providence et de l’Immaculée Conception; Italian Suore della Provvidenza e dell’Immacolata Concezione) is a Belgian congregation of active sisters founded in 1833 and established at Champion near Namur in 1836. This has been the location of the Generalate or headquarters ever since. The main activities have historically centred on teaching and the care of orphans, although nursing has also been a work.
The congregation built a large convent at Rome in 1950, which became the headquarters of the Italian province. This originally included an infants' school, the Istituto San Luigi.
Recently, the school has shut down and the premises converted into a hotel (casa per ferie or "holiday house"). As such, it is one of several similar convents locally. The Diocese does not seem to be aware of the change yet (August 2018).
Layout and fabric Edit
The convent with its chapel is up a long drive from the main road, and hence is invisible publically.
The chapel is an impressive stand-alone edifice, amounting to a small church. The plan is based on a Latin cross, with a short nave of two bays, a deep transept having short cross-arms and about as deep as the nave, and a three-sided sanctuary apse. The first bay of the nave is slightly wider than the second.
The fabric seems to be in brick with reinforced concrete structural elements, rendered in a pale yellow with architectural details in white and standing on a grey stone dado plinth. The roof is flat, with a parapet and a projecting cornice. However, over the transept crossing is a low dome. This has a very low octagonal drum with four small square windows in each side, and a tiled saucer in eight triangular pitches. There is no lantern.
Each bay of the nave has a pair of round-headed windows, and two more are in the diagonal walls of the apse. The transept ends have side exits leading to convent premises which flank the chapel.
The central portion of the façade is brought forward slightly, and contains the single entrance. The corners of this projecting portion are incut, and there is a string course running across it below the roofline cornice. The space thus created contains a central Latin cross in stone, and above it the roofline cornice has a slight horizontal angle. The two side zones are painted in a deeper yellow, and each contains a tall rectangular sunk panel in white which springs from the stone plinth,
The entrance is substantially embellished. The doorcase is in the same grey stone as the dado plinth, and is recessed within a dished round-headed panel which also encloses a tall tympanum. All of this is in white, but the dished area is bounded by a pale yellow stripe which forms an intermediate step in from the main frontage plane.
The tympanum contains a gilded mosaic representation of Our Lady holding the Dove of the Holy Spirit, and accompanied by lilies. The mosaic is bounded by two Latin texts -Ave gratia plena, Dominus tecum (the greeting of the angel at the Annunciation) and Trahe nos (which is from the Song of Songs -1:4). Below the main mosaic is a separate mosaic panel bearing the text Domus mea, domus orationis ("My house, a house of prayer").
The lintel of the stone doorcase below bears the year of the chapel's opening -1950.
Layout and fabric Edit
The interior is well-appointed, in a vaguely Baroque style, and obviously some money was spent on it originally.
The space is dominated by the dome crossing. Four massive square piers with the facing corners widely chamfered support four equally massive horizontal concrete beams. The low drum of the dome sits directly on these, leaving four horizontal squinches in lieu of pediments in the corners of the square created by the beams.
The beams are further supported by four arches with shallowly curved archivolts. These spring from pilasters attached to the main piers, and these have wedge imposts. The very low dome drum has square windows. The dome itself is a saucer.
The first bay of the nave is occupied by a gallery over the entrance, and there are galleries over the side entrances in the ends of the transepts. The transepts also contain two side altars, the one on the right dedicated to St Joseph and the left, Our Lady. The altarpieces are white marble statues. The altars have no frontals, but the mensae are supported by little red marble columns and a Baroque red marble plaque is on the wall underneath.
The floor is in dark pink marble, as are the arch pilasters. The exposed fronts of the main piers are in horizontal stripes of grey and pink marble. The wall decoration is mostly in white, while the roof elements and dome are in a light tan. The dome saucer is entirely blank.
The windows (including the two in the sanctuary) have brightly coloured stained glass in semi-abstract designs,
The sanctuary has a very shallow bay, ending in a three-sided apse and is occupied by a platform raised by one step. The sides of the bay have arched entrances to two sacristies behind the side altars.
The wall has a high dado in yellow marble. The altar is free-standing, on four Corinthian columns of yellow marble. Behind it, in the far wall of the apse, is a round-headed niche inserted into a grey marble panel, the top of this having a very shallow gable angle. The interior of the niche is in golden mosaic backing a crucifix, and this is over a Baroque polychrome marble tabernacle.
The sanctuary floor is in squares of red marble, framed in white. Two ambos or pulpits flank the sanctuary, in grey marble with vertical rectangular panels in yellow marble.