Santa Maria della Provvidenza alla Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi is a later 20th century convent and hospital church located at Via di Casal del Marmo 401 in the suburb of Trionfale. The locality is called Borgata del Podere Buccari, next to the Grande Raccordo Anulare.
San Giuseppe Cottolengo Edit
The remote origins of the hospital here lie with St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, a priest of the diocese of Turin. He counts as a progenitor of the massive investment by the Church in charitable and social relief activities in urban environments from the early 19th century, and inspired St John Bosco.
His first centre for social services was opened at Turin in 1832, and this was the Piccola Casa della Divina Provvidenza. It gave its name to the entire outreach, since the saint founded several congregations of clerics, sisters and laypeople to help him in his work and the Cottolengo religious family as a whole is also known as the Piccola Casa. (It is not to be confused with the Piccola Opera della Divina Provvidenza of St Luigi Orione).
The congregation of sisters is now known as the Suore di San Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo, and was established in 1959 after a union of twelve congregations of various Cottolenghine.
Chapels at Via di Villa Alberici Edit
The first sisterhood at Rome founded a Piccola Casa at Via di Villa Alberici 14, south of the western tip of Vatican City and next to the railway, in 1935.
The congregation of priests, the Cottolenghini, also established its Roman headquarters at the 15th century farmstead of Casale di Villa Alberici, number 8 in the same street, but this has been given up. It used to have a chapel -the info.roma website for this is here.
The Piccola Casa was provided with a purpose-built convent and hospital block, with a large chapel included -info.roma website here. It's at the terminus of the dead-end Via di Villa Alberici, right next to the railway cutting. The chapel faces the end of the street, and is a flat-roofed edifice in pink brick with six nave bays and a sanctuary.
The façade is in blank brickwork, in three vertical zones with the central one brought forward. The latter has a thin vertical capsule-shaped window, and a row of six round-headed niches between it and the simple rectangular doorway. This part of the façade is raised above the roofline and has a little horizontal tiled cap.
There are six long vertical rectangular windows in the left hand wall overlooking the railway, but only three in the right hand wall because the chapel attaches to the rest of the complex here.
Istituto Madre Nasi Edit
The hospital at Borgata del Podere Buccari was originally founded in 1974 as the Istituto Madre Nasi, after the forty-year-old hospital complex at Villa Alberici became unsuited to modern medical needs. The complex is described as an Istituto medico-psico-pedagogico, and specializes in mobility problems including those as a result of injury. The Cottolenghine sisters provided some of the staffing, and resided as a convent.
As well as the hospital departments, a large stand-alone chapel with an attached open-air was provided. This became a Mass centre of the parish of Santa Brigida di Svezia, and Mass was said for the sisters of the convent and for the patients and staff. The chapel was referred to as a church, although it did not have this status formally.
Madre Nasi was Marianna Nasi, foundress of the Cottolenghine.
Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi Edit
In 2004, the administration of the hospital complex was transferred to the Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, a medical charity named after Blessed Carlo Gnocchi. According to the Diocese, the sisters are no longer involved although they continue to run the Piccola Casa at Villa Alberici as a retirement home.
Previously, the parish also ran a Mass centre in the small and rather isolated suburb next to the complex. This was Santa Maria del Servizio alla Borgata del Podere Buccari. However, having two Mass centres so close to each other was difficult to justify.
In 2016, the situation seems to be that Santa Maria del Servizio has been closed down, and that Santa Maria della Providenza is now the Mass centre for the local residents as well as for the hospital.
The diocesan website now refers to the place of worship as a church, perhaps in response to this. The chaplain for the church and hospital is not attached to the parish, but is one of the two Cottolenghini now resident in Rome. He is Don Pasquale Schiavulli, and is also responsible for the chapel of the sisters at Villa Alberici.
This is a low, large building on a trapezoidal plan, with a campanile attached to the far end and a second-storey gallery overlooking an open-air theatre at the other. Hence, there is no entrance façade -the main entrance is under the gallery at the bottom right hand side
The campanile is a cylinder on eight tall white concrete stilts. The gallery has ten large circular apertures facing over the theatre, and a louvred roof. The side walls of the church are in white concrete with complex fenestration, comprising rows of round windows and others that are square or rectangular. They increase in height towards the altar end, with the rooflines being slightly upcurved. The back wall is incurved slightly, and to it is attached the sacristy block which joins the church to the campanile and projects to the left.
The main roof has a slight double pitch, and follows the upcurve of the side walls to a flat portion over the sacristy block.
Mass is celebrated, according to the parish website (June 2018):
Weekdays 6:30 "per le suore";
Sundays and Solemnities "per tutti" 9:45.
What the above information seems to mean is that the weekday Mass is for those at the hospital only, but that the Sunday one is for the local residents as well.
The church and hospital are in a gated compound, which is private with no right of access except for those visiting patients at set times and for those wishing to attend the Sunday Mass.