Santa Brigida delle Suore Brigidine is a 20th century monastic church dependent on the parish of San Giuseppe a Via Nomentana , and is located at Via delle Isole 34 which is off the Via Nomentana just north of the Via Paganini. This is in the Trieste quarter.
The dedication of the church is to St Brigid of Sweden, but the monastery is dedicated to Christ our Saviour and St Brigid jointly.
The edifice is often referred to as a chapel, including by the sisters themselves. However, according to the Diocese, it has the dignity of a church. Strictly speaking a church should have free public access at least on occasion -which is why perhaps the sisters do not want to call it that.
The church belongs to a monastery of Bridgettine nuns here, which was opened in 1920 after the re-foundation of the Swedish branch of the Order of the Holy Saviour of St Brigid by Blessed Elisabeth Hesselblad in 1911. This was initially the Curia or the headquarters of the revived Order.
In 1930 the old convent and church of Santa Brigida a Campo de'Fiori was re-acquired by the Order, and the latter is now the Curia instead. (It may be noted here that there is a separate Spanish branch of the Order, and four independent monasteries which are not under the jurisdiction of the Swedish branch).
The monastery in Via delle Isole became too big for the size of the community in the late 20th century. So, it has been converted into a guest-house under the name Casa di Santa Brigida. Formerly only single female guests were taken, but now there are no restrictions on who can stay.
Layout and fabric Edit
The little church can be seen from the street on the other side of the monastery's courtyard beyond the gate, with the convent buildings attached on the left and the convent gardens on the right.
It is on a rectangular plan, of five bays. The first bay is for the entrance lobby, and is slightly wider than the middle three which comprises the nave. The last bay is the sanctuary, and is also slightly wider on the right -on the left it abuts the convent. There is a low sacristy annexe attached to the back, and another annexe attached to the left hand side in front of the main convent building.
The fabric is in red brick. The entrance bay has a pitched and tiled roof with a gable, but the rest has a flat roof which functions as a sun-deck for the convent. The right hand side wall has blind pilasters in white at the corners, and two separating the nave bays. Each of the latter and also the entrance bay has a round-headed window with a circular one above (this is a feature of the design).
The single-storey red brick façade has three vertical zones, the side ones being narrow. The roofline of the central zone is gabled, and is dominated by a huge white arch which reaches up to the gable and fits into it. The frontage within this arch is recessed. The single entrance has a molded doorcase, which unusually has a horizontal cornice (acting as a shallow porch) which is supported by a pair of corbels occupying the corners of the doorcase. Above the cornice is a round-headed niche containing a statue of St Brigid. Within the curve of the arch above is a round window with a dished frame.
The two narrow side zones have horizontal rooflines occupied by plain cornices which meld into the central arch. Each has a long rectangular recessed section below, and above a square panel which is not recessed. The outer corners are occupied by blind pilasters melding into the crowning cornices. Each of the rectangular sections has a round-headed window with a wide dished frame, and above this another round window containing the emblem of the Order.
Inserted into the top of the arch is a round window, and a pair of smaller ones occupy the narrow side zones of the façade either side of the arch. They are above a pair of round-headed niches there. The entrance doorway has an arched niche above it containing a statue of St Brigid. All these architectural details are painted in white to match the arch.
The interior is simply decorated, in white with a dado in grey matched by the cornices of the ceilings over the nave and sanctuary. The two spaces are separated by a triumphal arch with a very shallow curve, which springs from corbels on a pair of piers revetted in what looks like yellow Siena marble.
The interesting thing in here is the altar. This looks as if it was sourced from elsewhere, since it is a fairly spectacular piece of polychrome stonework despite missing its pediment. The frontal, reredos and tabernacle all seem to be in sard, carved in a vaguely Renaissance style. It is flanked by a pair of stacked box-plinths on each side, in white marble with green bases and panels in onyx, These in turn are flanked by a pair of free-standing plinths in a white and pale green stone with onyx panels, on which are two adoring angels in white marble. The stacked plinths support a pair of Ionic columns in pink marble, which support nothing but a flat wooden canopy.
Two more angels, holding candlesticks, are on plinths in the same style either side of the sanctuary.
The altarpiece is a crucifix, within a gilded round-headed niche framed in green marble.
The church is not accessible to casual visitors, because the property is gated and entry is by touchpad. So, if you want to visit you need to be a guest here.
The guest-house has a good reputation, but is not cheap. There are twenty-one rooms, some double, accommodating a maximum of twenty-seven. One room has facilities for a disabled person.