Santa Maria della Salute del Policlinico Militare Celio comprises two early 20th century hospital chapels next to each other, one large and one small, in the precinct of the Policlinico Militare Celio. This has the postal address of Via Celimontana, and is in the rione Celio.
The edifices are apparently dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of "Our Lady of Health". However, this depends on a reference in Sergio Delli: Le Strada di Roma 1975, p.273. The writer has not been able to trace an official confirmation of this.
The larger chapel is a full-sized church edifice, and must be the most obscure of all those in the Centro Storico.
Despite its size and aspect, the edifice counts as a private chapel under the authority of the Military Ordinariate of Italy which has its headquarters at Santa Caterina a Magnanapoli. There is no public access, and security considerations would make it difficult to obtain permission to visit.
For the sake of clarity in the article below, the larger chapel will be referred to as the "church", and the smaller one as the "mortuary chapel".
The complex was formerly known as the Ospedale Militare del Celio. It occupies a large area of the Caelian Hill, which was the Villa Casali before its sequestration and clearance in 1885. The villa and its gardens were a serious loss.
The intention was to provide a dedicated hospital for any war casualties suffered by the Italian armed forces. The main buildings were finished in 1891, the architect being Salvatore Bianchi. There are about thirty separate edifices, but apparently the places of worship were not part of the original project. According to the Guida Monaci 1915 p. 316, the church was finished in 1912 by an architect called Ferdinando Ciavarri and was consecrated in 1913. If this is correct, it is his only church in Rome.
The two edifices apparently narrowly escaped demolition when the complex was modernised towards the end of the 20th century. This was linked to a change of name, from Ospedale to Policlinico.
The two edifices are up against the perimeter wall of the hospital complex running along the north side of the Via di Santo Stefano Rotondo, and it is possible to glimpse their back ends over the wall here.
The church is in a neo-Romanesque style, on a basilical plan with a central nave and side aisles. The nave has five bays, as has the right hand aisle. The sanctuary is a semi-circular external apse with a conch, abutted by a chapel at the end of the right hand aisle. The last bay of the left hand aisle is abutted by a two-storey flat-roofed presbytery which also occupies the space at the end of the same aisle next to the apse.
The fabric is in red brick, mostly rendered in a greyish white but with some left exposed. The bays of both central nave and aisle walls are separated by brick pilasters. The aisle walls are blank, but each bay of the central nave has a tall, narrow round-headed window in each wall with its sill resting on the top of the pitch of the aisle roof. The apse has three round-headed windows, and the nave end wall above it has a round window.
The central roof is double-pitched and tiled, with a gable, but the aisle roofs are single-pitched. The semi-dome of the apse conch is in a grey composition. A deep red brick cornice occupies the rooflines away from the façade, and this melds with a pair of red brick corner pilasters in the far nave wall.
A little gabled brick campanile or bell-cote is perched on the parapet of the presbytery roof, where the presbytery joins the front end of the last bay of the left hand aisle. It has a round-headed opening for a single bell.
The façade is in the greyish white render. The outer corners and the sides of the central nave frontage are occupied by four blind pilasters which are horizontally striped in red brick and white. These meld with roofline cornices in brick, which have little pendant arches.
The side aisle frontages each have a round-headed window under a wide hood molding looking rather like an eyebrow. The entrance faces a patio accessed by a short flight of steps (hinting that the church has a crypt), and has a tympanum sheltered by another curved hood molding supported by a pair of semi-columns. The tympanum has a relief of Our Lady. Above is a large rose window with its fenestration in eight petals.
Mortuary chapel Edit
The little mortuary chapel is a separate edifice, abutting the church's chapel at the end of its right hand aisle. It is rectangular in plan, with its own little sanctuary apse and conch. The fabric matches the church, being in white render with a tiled gabled roof and the apse conch in grey.
The nave has three bays, with a lunette window tucked under the roofline in each side wall of each bay.
The façade has a pair of red brick pilasters at the corners, melding into a brick roofline cornice with pendant arches. The entrance doorcase is fitted into a round-headed recess the top of which forms a tympanum. The façade has no window.
(The Policlinico has no website of its own.)
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