Cappella delle Suore Minime di Nostra Signora del Suffragio is a later 20th century convent chapel at Via della Stazione Aurelia 169, in the Gianicolense suburban zone.
The convent has closed down, and its future is very uncertain (August 2018).
The "Minim Sisters of Our Lady of Suffrage" (Suore Minime di Nostra Signora del Suffragio) were founded at Turin in 1881 by Blessed Francesco Faà di Bruno, a disciple of St John Bosco. He was very interested in intercessory prayer activity for the souls in Purgatory, especially those killed in warfare, and had already founded the church of Santa Maria del Suffragio at Turin to this end.
The new congregation was to have this devotion as its primary charism, but was also to be involved in social work for women and girls, especially those needing education or care. It took its suffix from the church, and the prefix "Minim" from the founder's devotion to St Francis of Paola.
Missionary outreaches took place to Latin America (Argentina and Colombia) and Africa (Congo-Brazzaville). The sisters tried to establish themselves in Romania after the fall of Communism, but that did not work out.
Failed generalate Edit
A new Generalate (headquarters) was begun in 1969, and completed in 1972. It was by the architectural partnership of Renata Giovanardi and Ernesto Monti, created through their marriage, and was one of their most influential works. This was one of the last of the great Generaltes built in Rome by the active sisterhoods. Papal policy in the mid 20th century was to encourage all such congregations involved in international work to have their headquarters at Rome.
Unfortunately, the sisters made a serious mistake because this was the worst possible time to commit to such a grand project. 1968 was the year when the active Roman Catholic sisterhoods began their steady and accelerating decline in numbers, and the congregation was ultimately not able to keep their new Generalate open.
Many sisterhoods in a similar position converted their Roman Generalates into holiday hotels (case per ferie) while maintaining a small community (or even just one sister) in order to preserve the tax advantages enjoyed by religious congregations doing this work. The sisters opened the Casa Monte Tabor here in the early 21st century, but were struggling with standards by 2014 -online reviews were not kind. There seems to have been some effective response to this, presumably by retiring inadequate and elderly sisters and replacing them with lay staff. Reviews improved in subsequent years.
Final closure was by August 2018, as the Generalate has now returned to Turin and the Casa Monte Tabor is (according to Google Maps) permanently closed.
The sisters are still present in the Rome diocese. They run a school at Via dei Colombi 47 in Torre Maura, and a house of refuge for single mothers at Piazza del Siculi 1 which is very near Termini station.
The former convent is in a large, very attractive and well-treed garden location, although its access is via a miserably narrow road hugging a railway line.
This amazing edifice is one of a piece, and consists of flat-roofed ranges of several heights arranged round two enclosed courtyards or cloisters. The larger courtyard is surrounded by what was intended to be a nursing home or something similar, while the smaller one is for the actual convent.
The fabric has a reinforced concrete frame, but is clad overall by large yellow bricks forming blank walls and incorporating roof parapets. The windows are mostly vertical strips. A major feature of the design is that there are many bastions and protrusions from the basic plan of two conjoined squares, and these give an overall jagged appearance. Apparently the architects wished to evoke an ancient Roman ruin.
The main chapel, for the convent, is in the basement which, because of the sloping nature of the site, has a garden prospect here. It is a low-ceilinged rectangular room, with concrete roof-beams left visible. There is some abstract stained glass.
As at August 2018, this chapel might have been deconsecrated.