Cappella di Villa Maria Assunta is a later 20th century convent chapel at Via Aurelia Antica 284, in the Aurelio quarter. (The full name is Villa Maria Santissima Assunta.)
The dedication of the institution is to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the aspect of her Assumption.
The "Oblate Sisters of the Sacred Heart" (Suore Oblate del Sacro Cuore di Gesù) were founded at Grottaferrata by Teresa Casini in 1894, in order to intercede with the Sacred Heart for priestly vocations and the holiness of priests, and to give prayer support to priests in their active ministry. The foundress was persuaded that part of the charism could be to educate girls to become good mothers of future priests, and to this end the first school was opened in 1910.
The congregation was initially approved for the diocese of Frascati, but received papal approval in 1947. After this, the Generalate or headquarters was transferred to a large new convent in Rome. See Sacro Cuore di Gesù delle Suore Oblate del Sacro Cuore. The Oblates also obtained a villa on the Via Aurelia Antica, and founded a hotel here for priests visiting Rome (casa di accoglienza).
Note that there are another two congregations with the same name operating in Rome, so the Diocese refers to these Oblates as Suore Oblate del Sacro Cuore di Gesù -Grottaferrata.
Layout and fabric Edit
The original suburban villa taken over by the Oblates is a high-quality neo-Baroque edifice just north of the Villa Doria Pamphilj. This has a low tower. The sisters commissioned a modern four-storey block on the far side of this, plus a chapel abutting the tower.
The chapel itself is on the plan of an irregular octagon. The main component is a hexagon stretched along its major axis, with the near and far walls short. The entrance wall is in the form of a very shallow three-sided apse, giving the eight sides of the octagon.
The fabric is a concrete frame with red brick infill. The entrance is approached by a fairly long set of stairs, hinting at a crypt. In addition, it is topped by a second storey. The roof is flat, with a parapet.
The far left hand side wall abuts the convent. The other three side walls each have a row of four hexagonal windows, slightly stretched horizontally to mimic the chapel's plan.
The frontage is in blank brick. The single entrance has a white doorcase, and the glass door is in the form of a vertically stretched hexagon. Over it is a transom window which is a hexagon horizontally stretched. On the parapet of the entrance frontage is a floating canopy in grey, having a central triangular void flanked by two smaller ones.
The interior is a single space, all in white. The flat ceiling, supporting the floor of the second storey, has transverse concrete rib-beams either side of a wide main longitudinal beam with slightly outwardly curved side edges. The hexagonal side wall windows have colourful stained glass with designs based on Christian symbols, but the entrance door and transom window are in pale blue and yellow glass.
The altar is on a raised platform at the far end. Beyond this, a space for the reserved Blessed Sacrament is created by two screen wall meeting at an inwardly pointing obtuse angle, and with a triangular-topped portico cut out of them. The far wall above the tabernacle has a fresco of a Calvary in a realistic style.