|Sacro Cuore del Suffragio|
|English name:||Sacred Heart of Suffrage|
|Dedication:||Sacred Heart of Jesus|
|Clergy:||Missionaries of the Sacred Heart|
|Consecrated:||1 November 1917|
|Address:|| 12 Lungotevere Prati |
|Phone:||06 68 80 65 17|
|Fax:||06 68 695 261|
Sacro Cuore del Suffragio is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and located at Lungotevere Prati 12, just east of the Palazzo di Giustizia. It is a familar riverside landmark. Picture of the church at Wikimedia Commons.
The official name of the church is Sacro Cuore di Gesù in Prati, but the name, as given, is the familiar one.
The church was built for the Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the French Bishop of Marseille. The confraternity was founded by Victor Jouet, a French priest from the same city, who had been impressed by a miracle, which had allegedly occured on the site of the present church. A small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary had burned down, in 1894, and the only item to survive was a fragment of a mural, or a scorch mark (sources differ), showing the face of a soul in Purgatory. Construction of a new church started in 1894, to Giuseppe Gualandi's design, before the new association was officially recognized by Pope St Pius X in 1913. The church was consecrated on 1 November 1917, during the pontificate of Benedict XV.
The purpose of the church and the association is to give aid to the souls in Purgatory. Père Jouet also collected documentary evidence, witness testimonies and artefacts demonstrating supernatuaral events, which, he alleged, were proof of the existence of Purgatory. Some of these things are displayed in the so-called Museum of Purgatory, which is in a corridor leading to the sacristy. This comprises a row of glass-fronted wall cabinets, which can be inspected by visitors to the church free of charge.
It is a parochial church, now served by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart which is a religious congregation of French origin.
The church is in the neo-Gothic style, and was constructed in reinforced concrete cleverly rendered to look like light grey stonework with dark grey background banding.
The façade is very ornate, and rather French (most neo-Gothic churches in Rome are in the Lombardic style). There are three entrances for nave and aisles, each having a slightly pointed arch enclosing a tympanum, surmounted by a gable and flanked by crocketed pinnacles. The main entrance is larger, and has three orders of granite columns. The smaller aisle entrances only have two. The tympani and the gables have carved reliefs, the dominant one in the central gable being of the Sacred Heart being adored by angels. Above the main entrance is a large six-light window containing wheel tracery in the Flamboyant style, but the smaller aisle windows have three lights each with a cinquefoil. The façade is occupied by an amazing number of statues of saints. There are seven on the gabled nave roofline (with Our Lady at the top, as is fitting), each in its own ornate niche. Three more are on each sloped aisle roofline, and a further four are placed, one each on the large crocketed pilasters that separate the nave from the aisles and mark the outer corners of the façade.
The overall effect is thought to mimic the cathedral at Milan, and hence the church has been nicknamed Il Piccolo Duomo di Milano.
To the right of the church is the residence of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.
The nave has three aisles, each ending in a three-sided apse. They are divided by quatrefoil pillars, and above the two arcades are clerestory windows. The design gives the impression of great height, and hence of more space than there actually is. The stained glass is figurative, of a sort rather familar to those from countries with a tradition of Gothic church building in the 19th century, but still rather good.
The feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated on Friday after the second Sunday after Pentecost.