Sacro Cuore di Gesù della Scuola Pontificia Pio IX is a deconsecrated 20th century Fascist-era chapel at Piazza Adriana 21 in the rione Borgo. The chapel overlooks the Via di Porta Castello.

There seems to be doubt as to whether this chapel was ever actually consecrated.

History Edit

The Scuola Pontificia Pio IX was founded on the orders of Pope Pius IX in 1859. It was intended for the boys of the Borgo which, back then was a heavily populated neighbourhood with narrow streets. (The girls had their own institution.) Surprisingly, this was the first direct involvement of the papal government in the education of the ordinary people of the city. Beforehand, the policy was only to worry about the education of the nobility -this seriously harmed the interests of the Holy See in the long run, and Pope Pius had the wisdom to begin to discern this.

The first permanent site of the school was on the Piazza Pia. However, in 1929 the city implemented a project to enlarge the piazza as the first stage of the massive clearances which came about in the Via della Conciliazione project. The school was demolished, and moved to new premises in the following year at what is now Via dei Cavalieri del San Sepolcro, 1. These comprised the Palazzo Serristori, which had formerly been doing duty as the papal government's volunteer militia (the so-called Zouaves) until 1870 and which had been redundant meanwhile.

Very oddly, a purpose-built complex seems to have been in erection at the time, but was never used. This is just north of the Passetto di Borgo, on the Piazza Adriana and occupying an entire triangular city block. It was finished in 1931. What went wrong?

The Università LUMSA was founded in 1939. (The acronym stands for Libera Università Maria Santissima Assunta.) At present (2018), it has the complex as a hall-of-residence, but the main entrance on the Piazza Adria belongs to a Carabinieri station. The university seems to be using the chapel as a pedagogical theatre and as an aula. Its headquarters is at the Piazza delle Vaschette -see Cappella delle Vaschette.

Apperance Edit

The complex displays the rather pallid although monumental neo-Baroque popular at the time, especially on the part of institutions wary of the megalomaniac Fascist neo-Classical take on architecture.

The intended main entrance on the Piazza Adriana displays its intended function to those who can read Latin. The doorcase has this: Sinita parvulos venire ad me ("Allow the children to come to me"), originally spoken by Christ. Above is a monumental vertical rectangular recess containing the sculpted heraldry of Pope Pius XI.

The complex consists of two ranges at an oblique angle, with the main entrance in the eastern range. The former chapel abuts the western range, and is on the second storey level. It overlooks the Via di Porta Castello.

The edifice is large and rectangular, with a pitched and tiled roof and walls in pink render. It consists of five bays, each having a round-headed window in each side wall except the easternmost where the window is rectangular. This would seem to have been the intended sacristy. The roof has a projecting cornice.

The façade peeps over the rather grim red-brick LUMSA entrance frontage. It has a row of three round-headed windows, and a gable pediment containing a round-headed window with a dished frame (the other windows are frameless). The pediment is not supported by any pilasters -the corners do have a pair of false pilasters in rusticated white blocks, but they do not reach the cornice.

External links Edit

School website

Info.roma web-page

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