Cappella della Casa Generalizia delle Suore Orsoline dell'Unione Romana is a very early 20th century convent chapel at Via Nomentana 236, which is in the rione Nomentano.
It belongs to the Ursulines of the Roman Union, and should not be confused with another convent of theirs at Via Nomentana 34 which is the headquarters of the local province.
The Ursuline family of religious was founded originally by St Angela Merici in 1535 at Brescia. Her original rule envisioned an unenclosed sisterhood active in charitable works including the teaching of girls, and was the first congregation of female relgious founded for this purpose. It was followed by literally hundreds of others, especially in the 19th century.
However, in the 16th century the notion of unenclosed women religious was controversial, and one branch of the family accepted enclosure in a monastery and carried out their teaching apostolate there. This became the Order of St Ursula, which itself developed into many congregations. The more active, unenclosed charism also led to other congregations inspired by St Angela's original Rule.
After the anti-clerical vicissitudes of the 19th century, the Holy See encouraged the Ursulines to consolidate in order to maintain vitality. One major result of this in the OSU was the formation of the Roman Union in 1900. This immediately commissioned a very large convent in Rome as its Generalate or headquarters, built in the grounds of the then Villa Giuseppina.
The presence of the convent inspired the dedication of the local parish church of Sant'Angela Merici.
This enormous building has four storeys, arranged in three ranges around three sides of a square. The fabric is in brown brick, although the first storey is revetted in rusticated stone or rendered in white. The roof is flat, although there are four large pavilions or belvederes with pitched and tiled roofs.
The style is in an adaptation of the neo-Romanesque, with most of the attention to design lavished on the frontages facing into the cloister garth. The open fourth side of the latter melds with extensive gardens and is an attractive ensemble, although it is private and invisible from the street.
The chapel protrudes from the Via Nomentana frontage of the central range, on the other side from the cloister.
The convent has a high wall and solid gates, so it is not easy to catch a good view of the chapel. The best one is from the Via di Sant'Angela Merici. Here you can see the second-storey choir chapel, of three bays in brick with a pitched and tiled roof. There is a lower semi-circular apse, narrower than the nave. The bays are each delineated by a huge round-headed recess in the brickwork which contains a round window at the top and a vertical rectangular recessed panel which looks like a blocked window.
Apparently the interior contains interesting naturalistic wall-frescoes of scenes in St Angela's life.