Cappella dell'Istituto Santa Maria is an earlier 20th century Fascist-era school chapel at Via Torquato Tasso 141. This is an annexe of the main school complex, on a separate site at Viale Manzoni 5. The locations are in the rione Esquilino.

The dedication of the institution is to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Status Edit

This is a purely private chapel, and it has never had a public ministry. Also, it seems not to be formally dedicated.

However, it is big and impressive enough to look like a modern parish church. For that reason, presumably, the school has been referring to it as a chiesa.

History Edit

The Istituto Santa Maria is a large school for a wide age range, and is the major outreach in Rome for the Society of Mary or Marianists. This clerical body was founded at Bordeaux in France by Bl William Joseph Chamenade, in 1817. He had been a non-juring priest during the French Revolution, and his Society was one of several congregations of consecrated religious founded in Europe in response to the secularising policies of the Revolution and Napoleon.

Pope Leo XIII invited the Marianists to found a school in Rome in 1889. This was in response to urgent warnings that, if the ordinary people of Rome did not receive opportunities for Christian education, they would be educated in an anti-Christian ethos instead. The site chosen was the Viale Manzoni, then in a brand-new suburb.

In 1937, an expansion project was entered into which resulted in a large annexe on the Via Torquato Tasso some distance away, and this included a large chapel. The work was completed in 1940. By the look of it, the architect was either Tullio Rossi or one of his disciples.

The Generalate or headquarters of the Marianists was set up at Nostra Signora del Pilar dei Marianisti a little later. The Society is also responsible for the parish of Santissimo Nome di Maria a Via Latina.

Exterior Edit

The chapel is a large basilical structure, occupying the street-side wing of the school complex. It has a rectangular plan parallel to the street, elevated over a ground-floor storey, and has very narrow structural side aisles. The sanctuary is an apse the same width as the central nave, and is hidden within the end of the wing by sacristy and ancillary accommodation.

From the street, what you see is a first storey in slightly rusticated ashlar stonework. Above is a grim cliff in brown brick, with a row of thirteen large round-headed windows. The apse is hidden away in the left hand end. Above, there is a glimpse of an attic storey which covers the central nave. It is rendered in white, and has nine round-headed windows in each side.

Interior Edit

The impressive interior, amounting to a large church, is mostly in white with a red marble floor.

The narrow side aisles are separated by Ionic columns in grey-veined marble, supporting flat trabeations instead of arcades.

The apsidal sanctuary has a simple but huge triumphal arch, undecorated with a recessed band around its entire edge.

The apse is filled by a monumental fresco painted by Giuseppe Spinelli in 1957. It shows the Madonna and Child enthroned, attended by saints associated with the city of Rome, with the education of children and with the Marianists.

A large crucifix in bronze is by Pericle Fazzini, and is above the president's chair at the back of the apse.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

School's website

Info.roma web-page

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