Santa Teresa del Bambin Gesù a Lido di Ostia is a 20th century Fascist-era convent chapel at Via degli Aldobrandini 37 in the centre of Lido di Ostia. The postal address is Lungomare Toscanelli Paolo 140, round the corner facing the sea. The quarter is Lido di Ostia Ponente.
The dedication is to St Teresa of Lisieux. The chapel seems to be referred to locally as Santa Teresina, or "Little St Teresa".
So, it made sense for the female branch of the Pallotines to establish themselves nearby. These are the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate (Suore dell’Apostolato Cattolico or Pallottine).
The sisters have run a school here ever since. This seems still to be open, and to be nowadays for infants only. However, the institution has a very poor online profile.
The Diocese refers to the convent as the Villino Santa Teresina, which seems to be a local nickname, and the school seems to be the Istituto Suore Pallottine.
Layout and fabric Edit
The complex has two obviously distinct parts. The convent proper is to the north, in a rather crazy but fun neo-Baroque style with Gothic hints. The school is a fairly plain and grim block, in a rather typical Fascist style.
The chapel is a small edifice, with a single nave of three bays. It abuts the convent block to the left, but faces a street to the right. Then comes a transept of the same width and depth as one of the nave bays, and finally a semi-circular sanctuary apse.
The right hand side wall has four tall shallow round-headed recesses, one for each nave bay and a fourth for the transept end. These stand on a plinth with a line of molding on its upper edge, and this molding is continued as a narrow fillet around the edge of each recess. Each of the first three recesses contains a tall, narrow round-headed window with a protruding sill, within a rectangular recess. The fourth recess, the transept end, has a round window.
The strips of walling between the recesses are given little string courses to give the impression of pilasters with imposts.
The exposed exterior walls of the chapel overall are rendered in a creamy white, as are those of the convent. The side wall described have the plinth, window surrounds and fillets in a pale brown, and the same colour is used to create a frieze below the roofline cornice.
There main roof is gabled and tiled, with a molded roofline cornice. The transept roof is higher, and is flat.
The apse has its own lower tiled roof. It has two round-headed windows within round-headed recess panels painted the light brown. Each of these windows is within a much larger recess, these recesses being separated by false pilasters as with the side wall. Instead of each recess being round-headed, it has two semi-circular curves separated by a corbel.
There is a tall campanile or bell-cote perched on the top of the convent wall to the far left hand side of the chapel. This has an oversized gabled and tiled cap, with a circular depressed panel below it on each side. Unusually, the tall round-headed bell aperture is given a curved bottom to create a capsule shape. It is lined with red bricks. The lower sides of the bell-cote are out-swept.
The façade is weird, and is made up of an assemblage of disparate architectural motifs. It takes some describing.
The corners are occupied by a pair of shallow blind pilasters with simple imposts instead of capitals. These support a deep, blank inverted V-shaped frieze in slight relief, the under edge of which is scalloped in five incut semi-circles on each side. These little curves are separated by corbels painted bright white, not vertical but aligned with the slope of the edge, and there is a larger pentagonal corbel inserted into the apex of the inverted V.
Above the frieze is a very shallow floating wooden tiled canopy, following the angle of the V. This is not the roofline gable. It is supported by three wooden corbels, and in between the outer two a fragment of molded cornice is fitted into the V. The ends of the canopy have a pair of stylised curlicues looking rather like nautilus shells.
Above this canopy in turn is a solid balustrade which is the top of the actual front wall off the church and hides the roof behind. It has a central gable angle bearing a cross finial, with horizontal lengths on either side.
The frontage of the chapel below the stone corbels has a round window with a recessed frame having a molded rim.
Below this window is a flat-roofed open circular porch, partially sheltering a little square forecourt which is slightly raised and fitted into the street corner to the right of the chapel. The roof is in tile. The main support is a broad rectangular pier in front, which is combined with a set of railings on plinths which protects the forecourt. The two quarter-circle portals thus created are each flanked by a pilaster of rusticated stacked blocks with a crowning impost supporting an incurved post springing from another stylised curlicue (here, rather like a Swiss roll gone wrong).
The posts support an entablature with a very thin architrave and single-molded cornice, which supports the roof. It has a dedicatory inscription: S. Theresiae a Iesu infante
The outer face of the front pier has a recessed vertical rectangular panel. Above this, breaking the entablature and rising high above the porch roof, is a Gothic arched aedicule with its own gabled and tiled cap and which stands on protruding horizontal corbels. The tiny statue of the Madonna and Child that it contains is completely out of scale.
The forecourt is paved in red, white and black patterned tiles. The single entrance has a molded door-case flanked by a pair of empty round-headed niches, rather low down. These are in bright white.
The interior nave bays are separated by pilasters, which run up to support the rafters of the high open wooden roof. In between the pilasters are huge shallow round-headed recesses, which leave a thin fillet up the sides of each pilaster. These fillets are provided with block capitals at the lower ends of the curves of the tops of the recesses, to give the impression of archivolt springers. The pilasters, fillets and capitals are painted pale brown, while the wall backgrounds are in white.
The sanctuary occupies the transept and apse. The transept has a triumphal arch, which is supported on thick engaged square piers with imposts. Into the far corners of the nave are fitted thin fillets which support exaggerated block capitals. In between these capitals are five pendant arches in relief, four little semi-circular ones flanking one with a very gentle curve over the centre of the triumphal arch below. These arches spring from horizontal corbels. Over them is a horizontal cornice running across between the nave side walls, and this projects even further. It is supported by a set of six more corbels, two over the block capitals and the other four over the corbels below.
The wall zone above the entablature, substantially projecting over the wall containing the triumphal arch, has a large empty red ring tondo in molded relief and runs into the gable of the open roof.
The triumphal arch piers are fronted by two traditional polychrome statues, St Joseph to the left and St Teresa of Lisieux to the right.
The apse has its own triumphal arch, identical to that of the transept. The latter has a barrel vault with a pair of lunettes over round side windows. The apse has a conch, also with lunettes over its two round-headed windows. Its interior is all in white, and is otherwise featureless.
The back of the apse houses the tabernacle, which is circular in marble and has a chased and gilded square door. It is accompanied by seven vertical marble columns of different heights.
(This over-the-top building has attracted remarkably little notice.)