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Gesù Sommo ed Eterno Sacerdote is a later 20th century monastery church at Via del Casaletto 266 in the Gianicolense suburban district.

The dedication is to Jesus Christ, under his aspect of Eternal High Priest.

Do not confuse with Gesù Sommo Eterno Sacerdote.

History Edit

The "Perpetual Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament" (Adoratrice Perpetue del Santissimo Sacramento) is a native Roman congregation, although the founder, Blessed Mary Magdalen of the Incarnation, had been a Franciscan Tertiary nun at Ischia di Castro from 1788. She had been inspired to found a new monastic congregation entirely devoted to the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but the destruction of monastic life in Italy during the Napoleonic period delayed this until the early 19th century.

She received the approval of Pope Pius VII in 1807, who granted the disused convent of Santi Gioacchino e Anna alle Quattro Fontane to her and her first disciples. She died there in 1824. The sisters in turn moved to the nearby church of Santa Maria Maddalena al Quirinale in 1839, taking the body with them.

Together with most other religious in Rome, the community had the freehold of their convent confiscated by the government in 1873. The nuns were allowed to remain for a few years, but were ejected from their convent with some brutality in 1886 in order that the buildings could be demolished for public gardens. They were not allowed to take any fixtures or fittings, including the contents of the sacristy.

For the next eighty years, the community lived in serious poverty in part of the old convent of Santi Gioacchino e Anna ai Monti. The available premises were cramped, and not suitable for a community keeping strict enclosure. However, in the mid 20th century it was discovered that it held the title of some property at Tre Fontane, which for some reason had been forgotten about. The sale of this realised enough funds to permit the building of a completely new monastery on a quiet suburban site, and the nuns moved there in 1968.

Despite their tribulations, the original Roman community has spawned a worldwide congregation. According to the Vatican in 2005, there were 960 nuns in 60 monasteries then with one at Anchorage in Alaska, USA.

However, in 2018 the Diocese listed only one nun permanently resident at the Roman monastery -the abbess, Sr Antioca Orrù.

Appearance Edit

The monastery is completely invisible from the street, and well hidden behind a wooded area. It has the Mexican College as a neighbour -see Cappella del Collegio Messicano.

The convent is a high-quality design for its time. The fabric is in pink brick, over reinforced concrete frames. There are two three-storey domestic ranges at an acute angle, abutting a two-storey flat-roofed central entrance zone. Behind the latter is a cloister with the unusual shape of a hexagon, and to the left of this (in between the two three-storey blocks) is a short wing with a spire on its roof.

The large church abuts the cloister and entrance block, which attach to its left hand side. It has its own separate entrance, well in front and to the right of the convent entrance. The paving in front of this contains a white star in honour of Our Lady.

The church has an unusual plan, overall rather like a beetle. The nave has four bays, and is on the plan of an irregular hexagon with its near, mid and far sides progressively shorter. Then comes a narrow transeptal bay, occupying the far side of the octagon. This, in turn, occupies the near side of the hexagonal sanctuary, which is narrower than the bay, has very obtuse near angles and long far diagonal sides.

A large hexagonal side chapel is inserted into the space between the sanctuary and the nave on the right hand side, creating a three-sided apsidal protrusion there.

The side walls are in blank pink brick, with limited fenestration. There are thin horizontal window strips below the roof eaves, two vertical ones in the near side walls of the nave, a wider one down the right hand side of the far wall of the sanctuary and several in the far wall of the side chapel.

The façade is gabled, and coved with an internal angle. It is framed by a massive set of piers and beams, and contains a concrete open-fronted box porch for the single entrance which has a gabled top.

The roof is the major design feature. It is in a grey composition, and has a very complicated form. A longitudinal ridge-line runs back from the façade gable, and this slopes up to the transept bay. Four forms shaped like laterally elongated pyramids are on this axis of the nave part of the roof, touching each other but not reaching the eaves either side. The sanctuary part of the roof has two more of these forms, and its ridge-line runs downwards to the far wall. The transept, the focus of the roof design, has a single pitch sloping down sideways to cover the chapel to the right. Otherwise, it is occupied by a tall pyramid which is actually slightly hexagonal, as there is a very obtuse angle in the far and near sides of this.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

Info.roma web-page

"Adorazione eucaristica" website (the congregation's website is defunct).

Anchorage's monastery website

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