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Corpus Christi alla Garbatella

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Corpus Christi alla Garbatella is the church of a convent of Poor Clare Capuchinesses at Via Pomponia Grecina 31 in the suburb of Garbatella, to the south of the city in the Ostiense quarter. The dead-end street is, in effect, a driveway to the convent gate. A picture of the church at Wikimedia Commons is here.

The dedication is to the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.

History Edit

Foundation Edit

In 1571 one Giovanna d'Aragona Colonna, Duchess of Tagliacozzo, donated her adjacent palazzo and gardens in order to found a monastery of Poor Clare Capuchinesses at Santa Chiara al Quirinale. In this she was assisted by the Confraternity of the Holy Cross attached to the church of San Marcello al Corso, the same outfit responsible for building Santissimo Crocifisso al Corso. They raised the necessary funds in three years, and invited the four founding sisters from Naples in 1874. This was one of two Capuchiness convents in the city, the other being Sant’Urbano ai Pantani (the lost convent of Santa Maria della Concezione delle Farnesiane was not actually Capuchiness, despite popular belief).

The nuns settled in the Palazzo Tagliacozzo, and the original dedication of the room that they used as a chapel was to Corpus Christi. Pope Gregory XIII donated funds for a new church edifice, the full dedication of which was Santissimo Sacramento e Santa Chiara. As a result, some sources refer to it as Sacramento but most as Santa Chiara.

The entire complex was sequestered by the Italian government in 1886, and demolished to make way for the public gardens now there. The community of nuns did not disperse, but built a new convent at what is now Santa Maria Regina dei Minori.

Second convent Edit

The new convent was erected in the rione Ludovisi, then undergoing suburban development. It was begun in 1904, and finished in 1910 with the church of Corpus Christi being dedicated in 1907. The dedication was chosen in memory of the original house chapel used by the nuns when the community was founded.

This nunnery was in turn closed after the end of the Second World War, because the nuns decided to build a secluded modern third convent at Garbatella.  

The convent was left empty, and the Capuchins at San Lorenzo da Brindisi nearby decided to move their headquarters to it. This transfer was finished in 1954, after a restoration. (The friars abandoned their own church and convent entirely in 1968, when their College was also moved to a suburban site.) Hence, the convent is now the Generalate of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. The dedication was changed to Santa Maria Regina dei Minori, or "St Mary, Queen of the Minors (or Franciscans)". This alludes to a venerated icon in one of the side chapels at the old Capuchin church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini

Third convent Edit

The community has been at Garbatella ever since. They have a very low profile, as befits their charism. Sadly, since 2015 they are the only Capuchinesses in Rome after the monastery of Sant'Urbano was suppressed.

Appearance Edit

The convent is a symmetrically arranged single edifice, comprising the chapel in a large front block and two side wings flanking a cloister behind. The far side of the cloister is occupied by a covered passageway. The convent is surrounded by extensive gardens.

The plan of the church is almost square, and it occupies the central position in the frontage.

There is a very plain façade in puce brick, with a dedicatory inscription below the horizontal roofline and a large round recessed window with a stepped frame above the door. The entrance is a little tiled porch canopy supported on wooden struts.

The pitch of the roof runs up from the façade roofline, and an unequal, steeper back pitch running down from the ridge contains a large skylight.

A campanile is on the roof of the convent wing to the right, where it attaches to the church. It is in the form of a thick brick slab containing two round-headed apertures, and has its own little pitched and tiled roof-cap.

External links Edit

Info.roma web-page (these are nuns, not friars!)

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