Cappella delle Suore dello Spirito Santo is a later 20th century convent chapel at Via della Pineta Sacchetti 227, in the Trionfale quarter north of the Gemelli train station.
The parish in charge is Gesù Divino Maestro.
Foundation of congregation Edit
This congregation of active sisters had its remote origins in a convent of Benedictine nuns in the small Campania hill city of Ariano Irpino. The nunnery was forcibly suppressed as part of anti-clerical government policy in 1876, and rather than disperse some of the nuns sought to re-found their community as an active sisterhood devoted to educating girls. It seems that in the first decade they lived as an informal commune, until the bishop of Ariano gave them diocesan recognition in 1877 as the Pia Casa di Instruzione e Lavore which was founded in the old nunnery. The institution was administered by the the Sisters of the Precious Blood.
However, the first Superior General of the nascent congregation was not one of the Benedictines but a Sicilian expatriate called Giuseppina Arcucci. She had taken vows as a sister at the Pia Casa in1880, but had rejected the decision of the superiors of the Precious Blood congregation to close down the Pia Casa in 1894. So, she basically squatted in it with (it seems) some of the former Benedictines. The city council wished to evict them as illicit, but they received protection from the bishop. Thus a new congregation came into being, recognised in 1896.
Initially, the congregation confined itself to Italy with an outreach to Canada in the earlier 20th century. In response, it received papal approval in 1948.
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 dell'Adorazione Sacro Cuore for another convent chapel immediately to the north.
The chapel is a separate edifice, apparently put up in 1970.
The congregation has coped better than others with the serious problems affecting religious life in the Roman Catholic Church in the latter part of the 20th century especially as regards a collapse in recruitment. It abandoned its Canadian presence in 1974, but began work in the Philippines in 1986 and in Indonesia in 2002.
In 2008, there were 100 sisters in 11 houses. In 2018, the numbers were down to 86.
As has happened to many other Generalates in Rome, this one has become surplus to requirements. In response, the congregation converted most of the convent to a well-appointed pilgrimage hotel (Casa per ferie or "holiday house") called the Residenza Spirito Santo. The congregation's headquarters is still here (for now), but there are only two sisters resident in Rome.
The chapel is a very attractive little building, easily visible from the Via Francesco Crucitti.
It has an octagonal plan, with a trapezoidal porch (half a hexagon) occupying the width of the front side. The back three sides are embraced by a sacristy block with gallery above, lower than the chapel eaves and quite narrow in three ranges fitting to the chapel.
The fabric consists of a reinforced concrete frame with (it seems) limestone ashlar infill. The ashlar blocks are of different sizes and colours -some white, but most in different shades of grey and yellow- and are not laid in regular courses. The walls are completely blank and windowless. The roof is supported by massive, low wedge piers on top of each corner, and in between these on each side is a large horizontally rectangular window filled with panes of blue or red glass in simple geometric patterns. These windows are overshadowed by the projecting eaves of the roof.
The roof is unique in Rome. It has eight pitches, interrupted by a low window strip creating a large central lantern. This lantern has smaller wedge piers supporting its part of the roof. The most striking feature is the colour -the wide ribs are in bright red, and the pitches are in azure blue.
The porch is undecorated, with a single entrance door, but has a roof in the same style sitting on a concrete cornice without windows.
The single-pitched gallery roof is in blue.
Inside, the concrete corner framework beams are left visible. The walls in between these are in chequerboard tiling in light and dark grey. However, the far three sides behind the altar have a gallery which hides behind three conjoined screens of red terracotta (?) fretwork featuring diapered square apertures surrounded by smaller piercing. Each of the three screens has a horizontal rectangular area in its centre where the colour is not red but white.
The floor is in light grey marble, but the simple white marble altar is on a single-step sanctuary platform of yellow marble. Behind the altar is a large square white marble bas-relief depicting Pentecost.