Cappella delle Suore dell'Adorazione Sacro Cuore is a mid 20th century convent chapel at Via della Pineta Sacchetti 231, in the Trionfale quarter north of the Gemelli train station.
The parish in charge is Gesù Divino Maestro.
Congregation's foundation Edit
The convent belongs to the "Sisters, Adorers of the Sacred Heart" (Sœurs de l’Adoration du Sacré Coeur in French, Suore dell'Adorazione Sacro Cuore in Italian), a French congregation of sisters.
This was one of the very many active sisterhoods that arose in western Europe in the early and mid 19th century in response to changing social needs. It was founded at Lyon in 1820 by Caroline de Choussy de Grandprét (1783-1827), in religion Mother Jeanne-Françoise of Jesus, and Fr Léonard Furnion (1781-1846). The primary charism of the new congregation involved the perpetual adoration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and secondarily the eduction of poor girls.
Interestingly, the first convent occupied a single cell (Cell H) of the suppressed Carthusian monastery of Lys Saint-Esprit which, like all monasteries in France, had been shut down by the French Revolution. (The eremitic Carthusian layout meant that each monastic cell in the monastery amounted to a small house with its own garden.) A year later, the nascent community moved to a larger cell (Cell O) with its own chapel.
Diocesan approval was granted in 1824. The congregation remained French until the latter 19th century, when it began to open school-convents in Spain (Barcelona), Italy (Padua and Brescia), Switzerland (Geneva) and (allegedly) Canada and Mexico. Papal approval was granted in 1877.
Like many other such congregations with papal approval, this one built a large convent in Rome as a Generalate or headquarters in the mid 20th in response to expressed papal policy. The meant that the city's inner suburbs have a surprisingly large number of convent chapels of this period. In this particular suburb is a major concentration -see Cappella delle Suore dello Spirito Santo for another convent chapel immediately to the south.
Unfortunately, also like many other such congregations of active religious the sisters suffered a collapse in vocations towards the end of the 20th century. Sadly, the Diocese (2018) records that there are now twenty-four sisters in four convents and the Generalate only has one (Maria Raffaela Pasquali, the Superior General who is aged 82). The situation is obviously untenable.
However, the convent of the Generalate has been converted into a pilgrim hotel (Casa per ferie) called the Istituto Adorazione Sacro Cuore and, as such, is providing a useful income for the dying congregation. It is unclear as to how often Mass is celebrated in the chapel, however.
When the sisters built the convent, by the look of it in the late Fifties, the Via della Pineta Sacchetti made a sweeping bend around it to the east. This bend has been cut off by a straight section of main road to the west, but the sisters chose to face the chapel to the original road and so it has a civic presence.
The convent is a boring four-storey reinforced concrete block with infill in red brick. The same materials are used for the chapel which is, however, unusual and interesting. There is a hint of Indian architecture in the design.
The plan is based on a cross. There is a very short nave with its near end melded with the convent, then a transept with two short cross arms and then a longer sanctuary arm. The ends of each has an obtuse angle in the plan.
The fabric is in blank red brick, topped by a very shallow concrete cornice. The side cross arms each have a pair of slit windows, flanking the far wall angle, and these are in the shape of a Latin cross. The far end of the sanctuary has a very large vertical rectangular window containing modern stained glass in a sunburst design with thick cames.
Above the cornice is a very deep window strip, interrupted only by concrete piers at each corner except the far angle of the sanctuary. These piers support the roof, which is in blue-grey anodised metal. This roof covers the entire chapel and has a mansard as well as gable pitches and hips for each of the three arms. Its most distinctive feature is that it has extremely deep eaves, shading the window strip below.
(Oddly, no French Wikipedia page.)