Immacolata dei Miracoli is a late 19th century convent and school chapel with a postal address at Via Leone IV in the Trionfale quarter. The chapel itself is at Via Sebastiano Veniero 3.

The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under a special title of the "Immaculate of Miracles" which expresses her aspect of the Immaculate Conception.


History Edit

The Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea (Suore della Carità dell'Immacolata Concezione d'Ivrea) was founded at Pinerolo near Turin in 1828, and established a large convent and school near the Vatican in 1906. This suburban area was still under development at the time.

The city block chosen included the site of the demolished church of San Giovanni Battista degli Spinelli, which was at the entrance on Via Leone IV.

The name of the convent comes from a miraculous icon of Our Lady, in the care of the congregation. The story behind it is that a painting of the Immaculate Conception on wood was sold as part of a job lot of old furniture at Turin on 8 December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, in 1859. The purchasers immediately tried to burn the painting, but the part with the image of Our Lady trampling a snake remained unharmed. The vendor's wife tried to burn it again, but failed. The local parish priest advised the couple to give the otherwise charred icon to the first consecrated religious whom they met in the street, who happened to be a pair of Sisters of Charity.

The icon has its own shrine at Ivrea, at Via Varmondo 12, which is in the care of the congregation. Photos of the actual icon, as distinct from paintings of it, are surprisingly hard to find but see the Youtube video in "External links" which shows it on tour.

The Roman complex became unsuitable for a modern school in the later 20th century, especially as regards the complete lack of sporting facilities. The sisters responded by quietly closing down what was by then a "middle school" (ages 12 to 15) in the early 21st century, and running at least part of it as a pilgrimage hotel. This must be on one of the best sites possible in Rome, but most of the buildings look in indifferent repair.

However, the west end of the complex, at Via Santamaura 2, is now the "Hearth Hotel" (its name in Italian) and is obviously no longer in the care of the sisters. The chapel is adjacent to this, and is probably now disused if not actually deconsecrated (evidence to the contrary is welcome).

Appearance Edit

Layout and fabric of convent Edit

The convent and former school complex occupies a whole city block, bounded by the Via Leone IV (where the entrance is), Via Sebastiano Veniero, Via Santamaura and Viale Vaticano.

The complex comprises several distinct units. The main four-storey block is on the Via Sebastiano Veniero, and is connected to a smaller four-storey entrance block by a three-storey wing. Both these four-storey blocks obviously had a top storey added early in their careers. A separate L-shaped four-storey block (the "Hearth Hotel") occupies the corner of Viale Vaticano and Via Santamaura, and the architecturally distinct chapel is tucked into the angle of this. The chapel abuts the main block at its lower left hand side, behind which is a tower campanile facing a very cramped courtyard.

If you are unfortunate enough to be stuck in the queue for the Vatican Museums, you will become very familiar with the rather scabrous convent buildings on the other side of the street. The trees are in the old school playground. The complex is in a vague neo-Romanesque style, in a dull pinkish render with architectural details (mostly limited to blind pilasters) in yellow ochre.

Layout and fabric of chapel Edit

The chapel has a civic presence on the Via Sebastiano Veniero. It comprises an entrance bay, a four-bay nave and a sanctuary of a single bay. On the Viale Vaticano, queuers can glimpse a side wall with four round-headed windows in dished frames. This seems to be a side aisle flanking both nave and sanctuary, and has the campanile at its near end. The roof of this bears a terrace, and facing onto this are four segmental lunette windows which light the nave.

Façade Edit

The façade is behind metal railings, and contains an internal loggia. This is approached by a flight of four steps beyond the railings, and has an arcade of three arches supported on red brick piers with slab imposts. The rest of the façade is in a dull light yellowish-brown render.

Above the loggia is a large central round-headed window in a proud frame with thinly molded edges. An inserted lintel creates a lunette window above the main rectangular fenestration. This window is flanked by two much smaller ones, without frames.

Just above the level of the top of the main window the side corners of the façade end in a pair of slab imposts. From these, two incurved swoops continue up to a molded gable cornice. A smallish eight-petalled rose window in a recessed dished frame is below the gable, and in between this and the main window is a Baroque heraldic shield in relief depicting the Immaculate Conception. This looks as if its is older, and came from elsewhere.

Campanile Edit

The campanile can be glimpsed from the Viale Vaticano. It is neo-Baroque in style, and amounts to an attached tower abutting the main convent block. The first three storeys are integral with the convent, but the last two are distinct. The fourth storey is a kiosk with a large round-headed window within a square recess in each of the two exposed faces, the window having a pair of imposts and a prominent keystone. The actual bell-chamber, on top of this fourth storey, is in the form of a cube with chamfered corners occupied by four buttressed pilasters, Each side has a sound-hole with a shallowly curved top. There is a tiled Baroque cap with a flat top, on which is a metal finial which looks like a small radio mast.

External links Edit

Official diocesan web-page

Info.roma web-page

Blog page on icon

Youtube video

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