Sant’Orsola delle Orsoline is a 20th century Fascist-era school and former convent chapel located at Via Livorno 50, just north-east of the Bologna metro station in the Nomentano quarter.

The dedication is to St Ursula.

History Edit

The Orsoline di San Carlo is a teaching congregation in the Ursuline family of religious sisters founded by St Angela Merici. This particular congregation was actually founded by St Charles Borromeo at Milan in 1584.

The Roman convent was completed in 1936, the architect being Mario Loreti. He was a noted Fascist architect.

The convent complex included a large girls' school, which the sisters ran.

However, towards the end of the 20th century the sisters suffered the drop in vocations common to all congregations of consecrated religious in Italy. The result was that they hived off the school in 1999, which is now under secular administration as the Istituto Sant'Orsolina. The charity in charge is called Dedalo ONLUS.

According to the congregation's website, the Communità Sant'Orsolina ran the actual convent as accommodation for university students and pilgrims. However as at 2017 the website of the Diocese does not list the convent, or the congregation as present in Rome, and so it seems that the former has closed down.

The chapel is dependent on the parish of Santa Francesca Cabrini , but is not a public Mass centre. However, apparently it has been found open to visitors.

Exterior Edit

Layout Edit

The chapel occupies one side of a square cloister which has a garden surrounded by covered walkways. The other three sides are occupied by a single large three-storey block with a flat roof. Oddly, the cloister has its walkways under pentise roofs supported by piers on three sides but the south-east side has it under the wing on that side, with an arcade.

A second cloister is beyond the wing to the north-east, which is wedge-shaped in order to fit into the street layout.

The chapel is a substantial edifice, comprising a central nave with five bays and an apsidal sanctuary which is the same width and height as the central nave. In front is an entrance bay, which is structurally distinct.

Fabric Edit

The entrance bay is a massive transversely rectangular flat-roofed block in white limestone, higher than the nave behind. The latter is also flat-roofed. The lower aisle roofs have single tiled pitches.

This is a high building for its width. You can examine the right hand side wall from the Via di Sant’Orsola, where it provides an impressive frontage in red brick. There are five tall rectangular side aisle windows, high up above a string course. Below this main string course the brickwork is decorated by five pairs of vertical niches, broken by eight thinner stone string courses. The blank brick wall of the central nave has five circular windows.

The same fenestration obtains in the left hand side of the chapel, above the cloister pentise.

The apse wall melds with that of the central nave, and has three very tall rectangular windows. Over the apse is a large circular lantern, which has a projecting flat roof supported by eight vertical concrete slabs placed radially.

Façade Edit

The rectangular white limestone façade shows some Romanesque influence. It has a monumental rectangular portal without a canopy, but with a simple projecting stone frame. Within, the actual set of entrance doors is accessed by a flight of stairs and has its own horizontal rectangular stone door-case.

Above the portal is a large round window surrounded, very unusually, by a circular figurative relief sculpture as a wide frame. This features angels, with living Christian symbols: fishes, lambs, peacocks and doves.

Above the entrance, the surface of the stonework has a lozenge pattern. The horizontal roofline has a projecting cornice.

Interior Edit

According to the Italian Wikipedia article, the windows in the apse contain stained glass depicting Our Lady being venerated by a pair of angels.

External links Edit

Italian Wikipedia page

School website

Website of congregation

Info.roma web-page

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