Cappella delle Suore della Sacra Famiglia di Nazareth is a later 20th century convent chapel at Via Nazareth 400 in the Aurelio suburban district, off the VIa di Boccea.
The dedication of the convent is to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
The congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (Suore della Sacra Famiglia di Nazareth) was founded in 1875 at Rome by a Polish expatriate called Blessed Maria Siedliska. She intended it to serve Polish expatriates, but it later had a ministry in independent Poland after 1920 and several sisters were martyred in the Second World War.
The first convent was at Sacra Famiglia di Nazareth all'Esquilino.
The congregation is now worldwide, but remains based at Rome. As a result of growth in the first half of the 20th century, it was decided to build a large new Generalate (headquarters) on a suburban site. The old Esquilino convent was kept as the provincial headquarters. The architect was Mauro Sperati, and the project was completed in 1963.
As has become usual for active sisterhoods which built very large convents at Rome in the mid 20th century, the congregation has found itself with excess accommodation here. During term time, much of it is leased to the Duquesne University of Pittsburgh USA as a Rome campus. The sisters run a pilgrimage hotel (casa per ferie), but this is only fully operational when the university is on vacation.
Layout and fabric Edit
The large chapel amounts to a full-sized church edifice. It has the plan of an octagon, stretched along the major axis with long parallel side walls. The fabric is in pink brick, over a reinforced concrete frame.
There is a nave of three and a half bays, the half bay being at the entrance, followed by a sanctuary of one deep bay with a three-sided back wall. The nave bays are separated by blind brick pilasters, but the sanctuary side walls are not so embellished.
The walls are in pink brick. However, a horizontal concrete string course runs around the edifice halfway up. The walls above and below are embellished by relief patterns in the brickwork, two rows of squares accompanying a central row of cross forms made up of a pair of horizontal rectangles flanking a square. Also, the centre of each bay has a vertical strip of three columns of tiny apertures in the brickwork.
The roof overhangs slightly over a deep white bargeboard, except for the entrance (see below). It is in greenish-grey tiling. The nave roof has a shallow gable pitch, but the sanctuary has five triangular pitches slightly steeper at the gutters, which steepen their pitch halfway up to meet at a point on the major axis at the junction of nave and sanctuary. The void thus created between the nave and sanctuary roofs is filled with a lunette window, recessed behind concrete support beams.
As well as a front public entrance, a wide enclosed corridor joins the chapel on its left hand side.
The chapel faces a patio accessed by a flight of stairs, so it looks as if it has a crypt.
The single wide entrance has two sets of doors, and is in the centre of the front side of the octagon in the plan. The short diagonal sides flanking this are in the same decorative scheme as the nave side walls, and have blind pilasters at the near corners which interrupt the roof bargeboard.
The walls either side of the entrance are panelled in what looks like bronze, but is probably resin. Each has six squares in relief, in two columns flanking a bas-relief figure of (?) St Joseph (left) and Our Lady (right).
The entrance is sheltered by a triangular floating canopy, the side of which continue the angle of the side walls. Above is a huge window containing the canopy's front angle, and this has stained glass in a fully abstract pattern involving quadrilaterals and triangles. The front edge of the nave roof forms the top of this window, and the triangular wall areas between the slope of the roof and the bargeboard and pilasters are in a pinkish grey render.