Santa Maria Regina Coeli delle Carmelitane Scalze is a later 20th century convent church with a postal address at Via Monte Carmelo 7 in the Aurelio suburban district south of the Via di Boccea. The locality is known as Val Cannuta.
The church is at number 3.
The dedication is to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under her aspect of the Queen of Heaven.
This community of Discalced Carmelite nuns has had a long history. It used to be at at at Via della Lungara 29 in Trastevere, more famous since 1900 as a prison. See Santa Maria Regina Coeli alla Lungara.
The convent was founded by Anna Colonna, the wife of Taddeo Barberini, in 1654. As one of the most powerful nobles of Rome in the early 17th century, she had amassed an enormous fortune under her husband's uncle Pope Urban VIII, but was forced into exile when Pope Innocent X objected to the corrupt means by which the money had been obtained. She was eventually allowed to return home, and spent the last years of her life occupied in the project to found a large and impressive nunnery. She was buried in a tomb in the new convent's church when she died at the convent in 1658.
The convent had the special privilege of reciting the Marian antiphon Regina Coeli every four hours in the church, with the prescribed signal being made on a church bell. Pope Benedict XIV extended the custom at this convent to the rest of the Catholic Church during Eastertide only from 1742. For the rest of the year it is replaced by the Angelus.
The nuns were exiled during the French occupation between 1810 and 1814, but returned and spent the first half of the 19th century in peace.
However, in 1873 the convent was sequestered by the Italian government, and the church was demolished in 1881. In 1900 the main prison for men for the city of Rome was opened here.
The community survived, but only settled in a new, purpose-built monastery in 1965. Sadly, this was a couple of years before vocations to the religious life in the Roman Catholic Church began to decline. The Diocese now (2018) lists four nuns resident, which is inadequate for maintaining conventual life in enclosure.
The layout hints that some public access to the church was envisaged, but it is not now a public Mass centre.
Layout and fabric Edit
The convent is large, comprising several one and two storey ranges arranged around two cloisters. Unusually, the larger cloister is pentagonal. The edifices are mostly in red brick with some walls in white render rather plain with pitched and tiled roofs.
The convent church has a civic profile, although a reticent one. It has an entrance bay, then a three-bay nave, then a single-bay sanctuary. There follows a very shallow and quite narrow connecting bay before the nuns' choir, which is pentagonal as well.
The walls are rendered in white.
The nave has three vertical rectangular windows in each side wall. A single pitched and tiled roof covers the entrance bay, the nave and the sanctuary and has low triangular dormers over the windows who do not, however, extend into them.
The connecting bay and choir together have a roof which is also pitched and tiled, but is higher. The eaves of the near diagonal side walls of the choir have a slight downwards slope towards the back. The near gable, over the connecting bay, is over a hexagonal window occupying the full width and facing over the nave roof. This hexagon is "stretched" horizontally.
The choir has two large windows under the near diagonal rooflines. The far right hand diagonal wall and the near left hand diagonal wall have convent buildings abutting them.
The church entrance stands a little back from the street, behind a railing fence with a gate which incorporates heraldic devices of the Discalced Carmelites.
There are three vertical zones. The two side ones are blank walling, in white except for a pair of brick pilasters flanking the central zone. The latter is a void, since the entrance is substantially set back beneath the roof gable -and, in fact, marks the start of the nave. The side walls of this entrance portal are also in pink brick. The entrance doors