Cappella delle Suore Pallottine is an early 20th century convent chapel with a postal address at Via di Porta Maggiore 34 in the rione Esquilino. The actual access is at Via Giuseppe Passalacqua 41, which is a narrow dead-end street running parallel to the former.

Beware of confusion between Pallottine (Italian feminine plural) and Pallottine (English masculine singular, but also used as an adjective). This chapel belongs to the former.

History Edit

St Vincent Pallotti, the "Second St Philip Neri", was a native Roman priest who founded the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines) in 1835 -their headquarters are at San Salvatore in Onda. He then went on to found a feminine branch in 1838, the "Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate" (Suore dell'Appostolato Cattolico).

A large convent was built near the so-called Temple of Minerva Medica after the congregation had won definitive papal approval in 1911. This is known in the congregation as the "Mother House" (Casa Madre), and seems to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart (Sacro Cuore).

A much larger Generalate (headquarters) was erected on a suburban site in the Sixties. This is at Via Caio Canuleio 150, in Cinecittà, and is an awesomely ugly complex of no architectural interest. It also houses a preparatory school, the Istituto Mater Divini Amoris.

The old convent was kept on as the Provincialate or headquarters of the Italian province.

Like many other active sisterhoods in Rome, the Pallottine ended up with excess accommodation in their convents as vocations declined in the latter 20th century. So, as with others they converted much of the Provincialate to a holiday hotel (Casa per ferie) called the San Vincenzo Pallotti after their founder.

Exterior Edit

The Via di Porta Maggiore frontage of the convent is a dignified but bland four-storey flat-roofed composition, which has two wings running back from the ends. These enclose an attractive garden. The right hand wing has the chapel attached to the end, adjacent to the large market next door and aligned to the axis of the wing.

The chapel is church-sized, and is raised above a high ground-level crypt. It has a single nave of five bays, and a three-sided apse of the same width. A pair of sacristies occupy the corners of the rectangle cut off by the diagonal sides of the apse. The main roof, unlike those of the convent, are pitched and tiled. The apse has three triangular pitches at the same height, and the sacristies each have two pitches much lower.

There is no façade, as the frontage abuts the convent wing.

The fabric is in brick, rendered in a pale tan colour. Each side of each bay has an undecorated round-headed niche rising from a string course which marks the chapel's floor level. This shallow niche contains a round-headed window. The apse has two very small round-headed windows, one in each diagonal side above the sacristy.

The left hand side of the second nave bay does not have a window, but instead a public entrance. Two longitudinal flights of stairs with pin balustrades, interrupted by a landing, run up to an elevated entrance patio which is supported on a pair of columns. The entrance itself has a little floating canopy.

Interior Edit

The spacious interior is in white, with a very high gallery over the convent entrance. The large round-headed windows are filled with stained glass in geometric patterns. A strip of geometric stencilling outlines each window, corresponding to the niche in the exterior wall. This design feature is repeated on the solid gallery frontage, which as a row of sixteen rectangular panels each depicting a decorated arch.

A simple string course in red marble runs under the sills of the windows, and in between each pair of windows this is connected to the floor by a rectangular panel in the same stone. A set of glazed majolica Stations of the Cross are above these, with two below the gallery.

The sanctuary apse wall is revetted in red marble, with strips of yellow marble inserted to form a row of large rectangular panels. The apse conch is in gilded mosaic.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page for congregation

Congregation's website

Hotel website

Info.roma web-page

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