Cappella delle Rosminiane is a later 20th century convent chapel at Via Aurelia 773, in the Aurelio suburban zone.
The "Sisters of Providence" (Suore della Provvidenza), to give them their proper name, were founded in 1832 by Bl Antonio Rosmini. The circumstances were complex, but basically arose from pastoral work undertaken by his disciples in the southern Alps around Domodossala. The founder regarded the nascent congregation as the female branch of his "Institute of Charity", usually known as the Rosminians and the male branch of which is based at San Giovanni a Porta Latina.
The sisters prospered after a difficult start since they answered a demand for female education, and initually spread in Lombardy and Piedmont. Very unusually, they founded one of the first convents in England since the Reformation, at Loughborough in 1843. By 1850 there were about five hundred sisters in fifty convents in Europe -an amazing level of growth.
A century later, the number of convents had doubled although the growth in the number of sisters had levelled out at about six hundred. The congregation was granted formal papal recognition in 1946. The Generalate at Rome was the result of this, since the papacy encouraged all religious congregations "of papal right" to establish their administrative headquarters at Rome.
The twenty-five years following the Second World War saw many active female congregations building huge Generalates at Rome, some with church-sized chapels. The Rosminiane were no exception, in a period of optimism and growth among such congregations. The first outreach beyond Europe was to Tanzania in 1955 (then Tanganyika, a British colony). Venezuela followed in 1966.
This was the end of the period of growth. The Second Vatican Council briefly raised optimism to a very high level, but a steady and accelerating decline in the number of vocations began to affect all Roman Catholic congregations of religious from 1968. The Rosminiane, like others, put their faith in attracting vocations from the Third World and opened convents in Colombia in 1989 and in India in 1991.
As at 2018, both outreaches seem to have ceased and there are rumours that the congregation is in trouble. The enormous Generalate convent has become a casa per ferie (holiday hotel) called the Park Hotel Aurelia (English is chic in Italy); although the congregation still retains ownership of the property, the hotel website does not even mention it by name.
The huge convent consists of three separate three-storey blocks in pavilion style (the top storey smaller), each completely enclosing a small courtyard. These blocks occupy the ends of a T in the plan, and the stem and bar of the T are occupied by single-storey ranges under the same flat roof and enclosing a further three courtyards. The stem of the T is angled slightly to the road, and the side nearest consists of a single-storey entrance foyer. This leads through to the chapel on the other side of the stem, which is a distinct edifice although attached to the fabric of the "stem range".
The chapel has the floor-plan of a hexagon stretched along its transverse axis, although its near two sides are embedded in the stem range. Externally it forms a four-sided bastion, having two parallel side walls and two far walls at an oblique angle. Each of the latter has a vertical step, creating a very shallow triangular apse which occupies about half the width of the chapel.
Like the rest of the convent, the fabric consists of a reinforced concrete frame with pink brick infill. The side walls each have a row of six identical vertical rectangular windows. The narrow sides of the apse are occupied by window strips with stained glass in a semi-abstract design recalling heavenly bodies.
The roof is unusual. The central zone along the major axis, the same width as the apse, has a gable-pitched and tiled roof with the ridge along the transverse axis. This roof covers the apse, and also the entrance zone of the chapel in the stem range. The sides zones of the roof are flat. The triangular spaces under the gables are filled with fenestration each having a grid of vertical concrete mullions.
This edifice could easily function as a parish church.
(September 2018: The congregation's website has malware.)