Cappella delle Religiose dei Sacri Cuori di Gesù e Maria is a mid 20th century convent chapel with a postal address at Via Tuscolana 327 in the Tuscolano quarter. It is near the parish church of Santa Maria Ausiliatrice. The chapel has its own gateway entrance at Largo Michele Unia 14.
The "Religious of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary" were founded in 1871 at Castellammare di Stabia near Naples. The founder was a bishop of that place, Francesco Saverio Petagna. The charism that he had in mind involved adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for offences to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (The tradition in Italian is to refer to both as "Sacred Heart", but in English this title is reserved to that of Jesus.) The sisters were to earn their keep by teaching the girls of families wealthy enough to afford fees (back then, the local nobility).
As was usual with such congregations, the sisters spread their charitable activities to include such works as nursing and the care of poor children.
The congregation received papal approbation in 1932, and final papal approval in 1940. The sisters then established their Generalate (headquarters) at Rome, because the congregation had spread to Latin America. This is their only convent in the diocese of Rome, with three sisters in 2019. The congregation has 142 sisters in 22 convents, which are in Italy, Colombia, Peru and Brazil.
One of these other convents is also in the city of Rome, at Via Anagnina 486, but belongs to the diocese of Frascati. This, the Casa Monsignor Petagna, was a Mass centre until the local parish of Sant'Andrea Apostolo a Centroni was set up.
The sisters run an infants' school at the Generalate, the Scuola dell'Infanzia "Santa Maria Goretti" named after St Maria Goretti.
Layout and fabric Edit
The convent is an unremarkable flat-roofed set of ranges occupying the four sides of an enclosed rectangular courtyard. The street side is taken up by the school, which has three storeys. The other two convent wings have two storeys. The fourth side is occupied by the large chapel, which is church-sized and stands over a crypt.
Apart from the chapel, the structures are rendered in a bright pinkish red, with some details in yellow ochre.
The structure involves a reinforced concrete frame, with infill in well-laid thin pink bricks. The plan is rectangular, having a total of four and a half bays -three bays for the nave, one for the sanctuary and the half for the sacristy at the back. The interior has a basilical layout with side aisles separated from the central nave by support piers for an attic storey sitting on top of the chapel. This attic is rendered in the same red as the rest of the complex.
The raw concrete frame is left visible in the left hand side wall, which faces the Largo and has no structures abutting it. The piers dividing the bays are flush with the infill brickwork, and meld with the roofline beam. The latter has a very shallow in-cut angle over each bay (this is a very Fifties design feature) The nave bays each have a large round-headed window, but the sanctuary bay has a large vertical window strip filled with grey shuttering. Oddly, there is no corner pier at the sacristy corner -the roofline beam here floats.
The chapel has its own frontage, which is impressive. Because of the crypt, the single entrance faces onto a substantially elevated patio which is accessed by a set of two transverse staircases in front. The revetting walls of patio and staircases are in grey, but edged with pinkish red. The same red is used for the balustrade piers for patio and stairs, and between these are red slabs which have gaps below their lower edges. Each of these slabs has a quatrefoil cut-out.
In a red recess in between the staircases is a large bronze statue of a youthful prelate -is this the founder?
The chapel façade itself is in the pink brickwork, with a pair of pilasters clasping the large white doorcase of the single entrance. The door itself is in marquetry, with a cross design. A pair of large round-headed windows with abstract stained glass flank the pilasters. Above the entrance is a plain brick arch enclosing a tall tympanum in plain white -was a fresco intended here?
The patio is protected by a large flat concrete canopy extending from the roofline above, and supported by a pair of free-standing concrete piers of square cross-section and slight taper, widening with height.