Cappella delle Povere Figlie di Maria Santissima Incoronata is a mid 20th century convent chapel at at Viale Alessandrino 695, in the Alessandrino quarter which is to the east of Centocelle.
The remote history of the convent begins with a foundation made in what was then open countryside by the Povere Figlie di Maria Santissima Incoronata Adoratrici Perpetue del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, to give them their full title.
This congregation, founded at Mantua in 1897 by Teresa Fardella De' Blasi, was devoted to helping poor people simultaneously with a prayer focus on the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and on Our Lady. This opened its Pia Casa di Sant'Antonio on the newly laid out Viale Alessandrino in 1928, at a time when the area was just being suburbanised and was still mostly open fields.
The first local inhabitants were refugees from the clearance of neighbourhoods in central Rome by the Fascists, mostly north of the Forum and west of the Campidoglio. These had no social services and many were destitute, so there was a serious problem with abandoned street children. The Pia Casa was a refuge for these as well as the suburb's first social centre, and grew to a large complex of buildings dominated by an imposing four-storey block. This is at Viale Alessandro 675.
A new church, Santa Teresa del Bambin Gesù alla Borgata Alessandrina, was built as part of the complex in 1932. Back then this was just a convent church, as the nearest parish was Santi Marcellino e Pietro ad Duas Lauros.
In 1954 the Pia Casa was joined by a new complex just to the north -number 695. This functioned as the Generalate (headquarters) of the Maria Santissima Incoronata sisters, as well as the noviciate. It is a separate massive four-storey block, containing a private chapel.
In 1961, the parish of San Francesco di Sales alla Borgata Alessandrina was founded and initially worshipped in the Santa Teresa church. However, in 1973 it had to move out and find temporary accommodation while waiting for its permanent church. This it finally obtained in 2005.
Meanwhile, Mass was celebrated publicly in the Generalate chapel, and this arrangement continued after the new church was opened.
The enormous convent is now a sad witness to a lost world when vocations to active religious sisterhoods were plentiful. There are now only two sisters resident here (according to the DIocese, August 2018), with a total for the congregation of 120 in 14 convents.
What you see from the street is a huge and rather intimidating four-storey block, with a flat roof and rendered in pale tan. This main block parallels the street, and four other wings run back from it. The two central ones are longer and, although there is no way of telling from the ground, they enclose a church-sized chapel.
If you go round the back, you can see the two central wings are joined by a large blank wall with a round window near the top. This is the sanctuary wall of the chapel.
The two wings clasp and overtop the nave and sanctuary of equal length, each with a pitched and tiled roof. They are separated by the dome, which is a windowless octagonal drum with eight triangular tiled pitches at a shallow angle. They meet at a grey cap, but there is no proper lantern.
Mass is celebrated in the convent chapel (parish website, August 2018):
(A Mass on Sundays and Solemnities at 7:30 is no longer advertised).