Cappella delle Suore Francescane Angeline is a later 20th century convent chapel at Via di Villa Troili 26 in the Gianicolense suburban district.
The "Angeline Franciscan Sisters" (Suore Francescane Angeline) is one of very many similar active Franciscan regular tertiary sisterhoods founded in the 19th century in order to undertake the corporal works of mercy. Amazingly, the diocese of Rome has convents belonging to forty-four different congregations with Suore francescane in their names.
This one originated at Castelspina in Piedmont, Italy, which is not a large place. Typically for many of these congregations, a local pious lady wishing to improve the lot of some disadvantaged social group -here, small children needing education -found a priest who had the zeal and contacts to support a limited local outreach with some companions. The benefactor here was a Franciscan tertiary Chiara Ricci, the congregation's founder and first superior, and the priest was a Franciscan called Innocenzo Gamalero.
Such local initiatives, involving a small number of volunteers, must have run into the thousands in 19th century Catholic Europe. Some of these grew into congregations, but the Church lacked any means of co-ordinating their growth and expansion. That is why there are so many congregations of active women religious with very similar charisms and outreaches.
Madre Chiara (as she became) attracted a sufficient number of disciples to form a nascent congregation under the local bishop in 1884. The name that she chose for it, Angeline, has no equivalent word in English -for obvious reasons, the sisters avoid "Angelic". It refers to the dedication of the Portiuncula church (the first Franciscan place of worship in Assisi) to Our Lady of the Angels.
The congregation spread through Italy, but not beyond in Europe. This led to Papal approval being granted in 1928, and formal affiliation to the Franciscan Friars Minor in 1937. Missionary outreaches led to convents being founded in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In response to its international character, and like many similar congregations, the Angeline built a substantial new Generalate or headquarters at Rome in the Sixties, in an area down the Via Aurelia dominated by religious institutions.
At present (2018), the Generalate convent also hosts an infants' school called the Istituto Francescane Angeline and a pilgrimage hostel called the Casa Giovanni XXIII. Unusually compared to other active womens' congregations, this one has kept an appreciable presence in Rome. There are nine sisters listed by the Diocese, out of a total of 208 in 35 convents.
The convent is in a tiresomely unadventurous modernist style which looks Sixties. It comprises a long range with two shorter perpendicular wings, the main range being two-storey and the side-wings four-storey. The setting is attractive, having extensive gardens
The large chapel is embedded in the main wing, but has some architectural identity. It has a rectangular plan, and occupies the second storey of the wing. The mansard roof protrudes from the otherwise flat roof of the convent, and has twelve triangular lunettes down each side. These run the full height of the sloping pitches of the mansard, reaching the flat portion of the roof flanking the major axis.
The side of the chapel facing the street is occupied by a narrow two-storey connecting range connecting the convent premises on either side. On the garden side, however, the chapel fabric is exposed. Vertical concrete support piers divide the pink brick wall into twelve zones, and at the top of each is a vertically stretched hexagonal window which fits into the roof lunette.
Structurally, what you see outside is what you get inside. That is, the concrete framework with pink brick infill. The beams down each side are double, and from them the beams of the roof lunettes spring in a modern vault. Brightly coloured stained glass in the hexagonal windows helps to offset the rather stark impression.
The sanctuary wall is as blank as the rest, merely brick with a pair of embedded concrete piers. A black and white semi-abstract light fitting in the form of a very long cuboid hangs over the altar, and the tabernacle to the right is in the same style.
The sisters advertise their Masses, which is good of them.
Weekdays: Lauds is at 6:40, and Mass at 7:00.
Sundays and Solemnities: Lauds is at 8:10, and Mass at 8:30.
Those familiar with the Divine Office in the Roman Breviary will spot that the latter is being used here, as you can celebrate its Lauds in fifteen minutes.