Santa Maria Addolorata al Celio is an early 20th century hospital chapel at Via di Santo Stefano Rotondo 5 in the rione Monti. There was also a roadside devotional chapel here, now demolished.
The site of the hospital is thought to have been that of an ancient lost monastery called Sant'Erasmo al Celio (see Sant'Erasmo), but unfortunately there is no archaeological evidence for this.
The land here was part of the patrimony of the Arciconfraternità di Santissimo Salvatore, officially founded in 1332 and which still exists -it has a chapel in the edifice housing the Scala Sancta (see San Lorenzo in Palatio ad Sancta Sanctorum). The members founded their Ospedale di San Giovanni in the following year.
The Pio Istituto dell'Addolorata was founded in 1902 by Giulia da Colloredo in memory of her husband Count Antonio Cerasi, who had died in 1899 and who expressed his wish for the foundation in his will. The very large building was completed in 1905.
Initially the institution functioned as an almshouse as well as a hospice, as it was intended for poor people unable to work because of illness or debility. However, it mutated into a proper medical hospital -the Ospizio dell'Addolorata. It kept its independence for almost seventy years, but the expectations of modern medical standards encouraged a merger with the much older San Giovanni hospital in 1973. This still exists as the Azienda Ospedaliera San Giovanni Addolorata.
The Azienda also took over the neighbouring Ospedale Britannico or "Calvary Hospital", with its heart-shaped chapel. See Cuore Materno di Maria.
The enormous, vaguely neo-Classical three-storey edifice is on the plan of an E, with a long central front range and three perpendicular back wings. The chapel is the third storey of the central back wing. It has its own architectural identity, being smaller than the footprint of the wing and so being surrounded by flat roofing which tops the second storey. In other words, it is like a small church hoisted up and plonked on top of the wing. It abuts the top storey of the main range via an antechamber.
Perhaps because it is so far above the ground, the exterior of the chapel has no embellishments. The single nave has five bays, with a pitched and tiled roof and a round-headed windows in the side walls of each bay. The walls are otherwise blank, rendered in pink like the rest of the edifice. The sanctuary is a transverse rectangular apse, narrower and lower than the bay, with a single-pitched roof having a triangular hip on each side. Each side wall has a round-headed window.
Roadside chapel Edit
If you follow the road eastwards from Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio towards the Lateran, you will find a wayside shrine to Our Lady in one of the blocked up arches of the Aqua Neroniana aqueduct. A little icon of Our Lady of Sorrows is in a blue box-shrine.
This shrine is attached to the blocking of a former chapel doorway, itself inserted into the blocking of the aqueduct arch when the remains of the aqueduct were converted into a vineyard wall in the Middle Ages. The doorway has a simple stone semi-circular archivolt resting on a pair of spindly square piers with vaguely Doric capitals. The doorway is not centred symmetrically in the larger arch, but the right hand pier abuts that of the latter.
This chapel seems to have been built when the hospital was founded, but is entirely obscure. The only reference to it that the writer has found is, oddly, on the contemporary Michelin map of Rome where it is shown. It was probably demolished in the mid 20th century, if not earlier.
Annas Rom Guide (Danish)