Cappella delle Suore Compassioniste Serve di Maria is a later 20th century convent church at Via Appia Nuova 1009, in the Appio Claudio quarter. The locality is called Statuario, and the parish church of Sant'Ignazio di Antiochia is adjacent.
The "Compassionate Sisters, Slaves of Mary" (Suore Compassioniste Serve di Maria) was founded in 1869 at a place called Scanzano near Castellammare di Stabia, itself near Naples. The foundress was Blessed Costanza Starace, to be Mother Maria Maddalena della Passione, who wished to assist orphans with the help of some companions.
They made religious promises as Servite tertiaries, and the new congregation was formally affiliated with the Servite Order in 1893. It received a papal decree of praise in 1900, and formal papal approval in 1936. It has spread via missionary activity in Asia and the Americas.
In 1962, a new Generalate (headquarters) was opened in Rome. However, this probably proved unwise because the number of vocations immediately began to decline in common with other Roman Catholic congregations of religious. When the foundress was beatified in 2007, she was enshrined back home at the Santuario del Sacro Cuore at Scanzano -and not at the Generalate, as might have been expected.
The Generalate is now also a holiday hotel (casa per ferie) called the Casa Santa Maria. There are four of the sisters here.
Convent layout and fabric Edit
This is a spectacular and impressive piece of modernist architecture, not the usual rubbish often put up at the time -who was the architect?
The fabric of the main range consists of five reinforced concrete frames on rectangular plans of slightly different sizes. Three of these form the main range, placed longitudinally in line with the central one slightly set back. The other two are attached to the fronts of the outer pair of the main range; the left hand one is the smallest of the five units, and the unit it fronts protrudes on either side. The right hand one is about the same size as the unit it fronts, but is displaced to the right.
A large square block is placed in front of the main range, with its diagonal perpendicular to it. An annexe connects it to the left hand block of the main range, and a cylindrical structure to the right hand one. The latter is the highest part of the convent, and is a short white cylinder which forming a high canopy over the convent entrance.
The roofs of the units of the main range have single tiled pitches, the square block has four shallow tiled pitches meeting at a lantern, the connecting annexe and the cylinder have flat roofs in bright green and the same and the same colour appears roofing a belvedere and three high canopies.
The main rooflines have balustrades formed of lines of large square open concrete frames, which are cantilevered out and supported on tall, thin slab piers.
Much of the walling is revetted in polished white limestone slabs. The paving around the convent is in dull red and white, laid decoratively and including large rosettes.
The chapel has a small circular sanctuary, backed by an apse in stained glass with vertical steel support bars. The glass is semi-abstract, based on a sunrise theme, and focuses on the circular tabernacle.
There is a pair of good modern pink marble walls statues flanking the sanctuary, of St Joseph and the Christ Child to the left and Our Lady of Sorrows with the dead Christ to the right.