Santa Teresa di Calcutta del Carcere di Rebibbia is a 21st century prison chapel in the huge complex of the Carcere di Rebibbia in the Ponte Mammolo quarter.

The dedication is to St Teresa of Calcutta.

History[edit | edit source]

Rome's major prison was erected in the suburb of Rebibbia in 1972, taking over that function from the Regina Coeli in Trastevere (see Santa Maria Regina Coeli alla Lungara). It contains several departments for men and women, and renovations and extensions within the ample perimeter walls continue to date.

A new chapel, amounting to a church edifice, was consecrated in 2017 in the women's section. It is in the charge of the Friars Minor Conventual.

Exterior[edit | edit source]

The chapel is free-standing, and has an almost circular plan. However, the circle is given a hyperbolic curvature at the altar end and this makes the plan strictly oval or egg-shaped.

The nave or main part of the chapel is a red brick cylinder, having a flat roof sunk below the level of the top of the wall. This is girdled by a broken annular zone, running clockwise from about 10 o'clock to 5 o'clock with reference to the major axis. 10 o'clock to about 2 o'clock is the sanctuary, and is at the same height as the nave. Also, the same roof covers it. From 2 o'clock to 5 o'clock is an ancillary zone, and this includes the entrance in its end at 5 o'clock. This zone is about two-thirds of the height of the nave, and has its own flat roof.

On the left hand side of the nave, from 9 to 10 o'clock, is a sacristy block about half the height of the chapel, and with a smaller radius. Above this, the left hand end of the sanctuary has a grid of five very long vertical rectangular windows in concrete frames. Two more such windows are next to the sacristy. A similar set of shorter windows is over the entrance at the right hand side.

The chapel stands over a ground-level crypt, and this can be seen in a white concrete string course especially around the back. Because of the crypt, the entrance is accessed via a small patio accessed by a two flights of stairs broken by a short landing.

The wall fenestration is limited. The entrance-ancillary zone's wall has three pairs of small vertical rectangular windows. The nave has one such pair high up near the roof parapet at 4 and 8 o'clock, and a single window nearer the sanctuary at a little distance from each pair. The back of the sanctuary has a set of slit windows in the form of a huge cross.

Most of the chapel's fenestration is in the roof. The near side of the nave have three huge wedge-shaped indentations in the roof with their edges abutting the parapet, and these are lanterns directing light into the nave. The back curve of the sanctuary is continued upwards as part of a huge low cylindrical lantern, amounting to a modern dome. This has a flat louvred top, twelve of the slit windows in the front of the drum and a pair of them in each side. These pairs are asymmetrical, the front windows being shorter.

Interior[edit | edit source]

The interior is in red brick, with concrete support elements displayed. A pair of free-standing concrete columns, displaying the shuttering, supports a semi-circular ring beam which itself supports the lantern over the sanctuary. These columns also support galleries which occupy the sanctuary either side, and have solid white frontals.

There is a terracotta crucifix by Anna Biancardi. The altar is in chestnut wood, and was crafted by a farmer who served a long sentence at the prison.

External links[edit | edit source]

Info.roma web-page

Newspaper article

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