Santa Maria Addolorata delle Monache Mantellate is a mid 20th century monastery church at Via della Fanella 45 which is off the Via Portuense in the Gianicolense suburban zone. The locality is called Colle Fanella.
The remote history of the community here begins with a convent of Visitation nuns, which was located behind the much larger Carmelite nunnery of Santa Maria Regina Coeli on the Via della Lungara in Trastevere. (See Santi Maria della Visitazione e Francesco di Sales delle Mantellate.) These moved out in 1793, and in the following year the empty convent was purchased by Vincenzo and Maddalena Masturzi, silk merchants, who had a daughter called Maria Giuliana. She wanted to found a new convent with some friends, and this project received papal approval in 1801. The little community of twelve began common life in 1803.
The result was a Third Order Servite sisterhood called the Serve di Maria, using the rule of life drawn up by St Juliana Falconieri. They, like the many other female Servite Tertiaries, were nicknamed the Mantellate after the cloaks they wore.
The freehold of the convent was expropriated by the Italian government in 1873, but the sisters were allowed to stay in residence until 1884. This was because the Carmelite convent next door was being converted into the prison of Regina Coeli, which was to be the main prison in Rome and which was going to use the Mantellate convent premises when open. When that job was done, the Mantellate were evicted and their convent was converted into an annexe for women prisoners. This it remained until a new women's prison was built at Rebibbia in 1964.
From 1884 until 1897, the sisters occupied part of the convent of the Paolotte or Minim nuns at Santi Gioacchino e Anna ai Monti. However, the two communities found living in close proximity difficult and so the Mantellate moved to a house near the Colosseum at Via di San Giovanni in Laterano 3. This was hopeless, as the premises were cramped and damp. Even so, the nuns put up with things for ten years before moving again.
The new monastery on the Via Mocenigo in the rione Prati was opened in 1908. It was the community's intention to stay here, and in fact they proposed a new church dedicated to St Juliana Falconieri, the foundress of the Mantellate. The foundation stone of this was laid in 1926, but suburban development meant that the community had a re-think and decided to move to a less crowded site.
The next monastery was opened in 1936 at Via Alessandro Algardi 19 in the suburb of Monteverde Vecchio in the Gianicolense quarter. See Santa Giuliana for the surviving church. Oddly the nuns were chased away from here by suburban development again, and moved to their present monastery in 1958. The church of this was consecrated in 1960
Meanwhile, they had formally joined the Servite Order in 1956 -before then, the monastery had been independent under the Holy See.
The nuns decided to eschew fashionable modernist architectural designs for a much more traditional layout and appearance and, given the later experiences of other religious communities building at the same time, this proved wise.
The monastery is up a long dead-end street, and is surrounded by fields. It amounts to one edifice, with four two-storey ranges around a square cloister with arcaded walkways and a central garden. The church is a continuation of the northern range, and occupies the far side of the little entrance piazza at the end of the street.
The brick walls of the monastery are rendered in a dull red, but the church is in naked pink brick. The roofing is in tile, with gable pitches.
The single-naved church has six bays, with the further five each having a pair of windows in its side walls just below the roofline. These windows have slightly curved lintels.
An arcaded walkway runs down the left hand side of the church, with a single-pitched roof joining the wall of the church just below the windows on that side. The arcade arches are undecorated, and are in the same brickwork as the church.
The façade is very simple. The single entrance has a white doorcase, approached by a set of three matching steps. Above is a round window containing stained glass depicting the Dove of the Holy Spirit in glory. This has a flush brick frame, but the gable above has a molded cornice in white.