In 1954, they completed the first phase of a major project to build two large convents in Rome. This one, the congregation's flagship school in the city, was opened before the Generalate located in EUR (see Cappella della Casa Generalizia dei Fratelli Maristi). Here, Luigi Mainardi provided the design and Enrico Lenti supervised the construction; the latter went on to build the Generalate and its own impressive chapel.
The chapel here remains primarily that of the Istituto San Leone Magno, a large private school. However, it is also open for public worship despite being close to the parish church of Sant'Agnese. Also, and unusually for a school chapel, there are advertised opening hours during which you can make a visit.
Layout and fabric Edit
The chapel does not stand on the street, but on the far side of a large square courtyard entered through a wide portal in a grim single-storey frontage looking rather like a military bunker. This has the name of the school on it. You can see the chapel's open-work spire peeping over the top.
The courtyard is attractively paved in a fish-scale pattern, white on brown. It has a covered walkway on each of its four sides, the canopies being suspended and having flat roofs on three sides. These roofs are accessible, and so have ugly chain-link safety fences protecting them. The fourth side, on the right, has a large four-storey block and the walkway here is recessed into it.
The chapel is in the shape of an irregular decagon, having ten sides in its plan with its footprint overall resembling the mouth of a railway tunnel. The façade is straight, and is flanked by two nave side walls at a slight outwards diagonal alignment. There follows a structural transept, with its side walls almost longitudinal, and then a five-sided sanctuary apse.
The chapel fits in between the large right hand school block already mentioned and another one to its left, but is a separate edifice. The fabric is in reinforced concrete.
The impressively pitched roof depends on two massive transverse concrete V-beams defining the transept structurally. The near one is straight across, but the far one has a slight angle in the plan which faces the sanctuary. These two beams support an open-work spire in steel rods looking rather like a miniature electricity pylon, beginning with four struts at a low angle which bend to a greater angle before meeting. The near and far pairs both have a pair of cross-struts, and thinner rods form a sort of cage below.
Each of the sides of the decagon has its own roof pitch, except for the front one which has two triangular ones meeting at a roofline along the major axis.
The entrance lurks under the walkway canopy on the far side of the yard, with its safety fence. The frontage wall here is revetted in pale brown travertine limestone slabs. On either side of the entrance is a sculptural group in the form of silhouettes.
The second storey, above the canopy, has a row of fenestration occupying almost its entire width. Between this and the roofline the frontage is in fine white stone cladding, which has a central pentagonal recess painted red. This contains a cross in white.
According to the Diocese, the chapel is open to the public:
Weekdays 7:45 to 9:30;
Sundays and Solemnities 10:00 to 13:00.
(It is unclear as to whether this includes school holidays.)
According to the Diocese, Mass is publicly celebrated on Sundays and Solemnities (only) at 10:30 and 11:30, but not from 15 June to September.