Santa Teresa del Bambin Gesù alla Borga Alessandrina is a 20th century Fascist-era former convent church located at Viale Alessandrino 673 in the Alessandrino quarter, north of Via Casilina and east of Centocelle.
The dedication is to St Teresa of Lisieux.
The convent here was founded in what was then open countryside by the Povere Figlie di Maria Santissima Incoronata Adoratrici Perpetue del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, to give them their full title.
This congregation, founded at Mantua in 1897 by Teresa Fardella De' Blasi, was devoted to helping poor people simultaneously with a prayer focus on the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and on Our Lady. This opened its Pia Casa di Sant'Antonio on the newly laid out Viale Alessandrino in 1928, at a time when the area was just being suburbanised and was still mostly open fields.
The first local inhabitants were refugees from the clearance of neighbourhoods in central Rome by the Fascists, mostly north of the Forum and west of the Campidoglio. These had no social services and many were destitute, so there was a serious problem with abandoned street children. The Pia Casa was a refuge for these as well as the suburb's first social centre, and grew to a large complex of buildings dominated by an imposing four-storey block. This is at Viale Alessandro 675, next door.
A new church was built as part of the complex in 1932.
In 1954 the Pia Casa was joined by a new complex just to the north -number 695. This functioned as the Generalate (headquarters) of the Maria Santissima Incoronata sisters, as well as the noviciate. It is a separate massive four-storey block, containing a private chapel.
The parish of San Francesco di Sales alla Borgata Alessandrina was established in 1961, and began worship in the convent church.
The Pia Casa had to be closed in 1968, and the sisters confined themselves to their Generalate. The complex then became the Collegium Lateranense "San Giovanni XXIII", a seminary which is part of the Pontifical Lateran University. The parish was given five years of grace, but in 1973 had to move. Since then, the church has functioned as a college chapel with no public ministry.
Layout and fabric Edit
The church is a simple structure having a single nave of six bays, followed by a rectangular apse.
The first five bays on the left hand side each have a narrow vertical round-headed window, but the right hand side impinges on the former Pia Casa edifice and only has three windows. These windows each have a floating arc cornice in brick, rather like an eyebrow. The nave roof is pitched and tiled, and the walls are rendered in a pale tan colour.
The apse is lower and narrower than the nave, under its own tiled roof. It has a small square window high up on each side.
The façade is quite attractive, with architectural details in brown brick. A pair of blind pilasters at each corner melds with an entablature which has molding rows in small dentillations bounding the frieze. The cornice has little modillions with peg tassels, and supports a pediment decorated in the same way and which has a blank tympanum.
The interesting single entrance has a doorcase in brick, with the side piers each decorated with comb molding. These piers support block capitals formed of brick stacks, which in turn support a slightly projecting horizontal brick lintel with a single row of bricks in herringbone. Above the capitals is a brick archivolt enclosing a blank tympanum and also with a comb molding.
Above the entrance is a round window with a wide brick frame in the same style as the archivolt just below. It contains stained glass in a simple design of a red cross on a white background.