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Santuario di Schoenstatt is a 21st century Marian shrine at Via di Santa Gemma in the Casalotti suburban zone, west of the Grande Raccordo Anulare and just north of the Via di Boccea. The location is called Belmonte, so the shrine is also called Santuario di Belmonte.
The shrine is in the city of Rome, but in the diocese of Porto Santa Rufina.
However there is an identical late 20th century shrine chapel at Via Aurelia Antica 112, in the Aurelio quarter. This is in the private grounds of a house of residence (not a convent). The dedication here is to Our Lady as "Heart of the Church" (Cor Ecclesiae).
Schönstatt monastery Edit
The remote source of the present shrine chapels at Rome was an Augustinian monastery founded in 1143 at a village called Schönstatt near Vallendar on the Rhine in Germany. This had a cemetery chapel, first mentioned in 1319 and dedicated to St Michael the Archangel.
After the monastery was destroyed in the Thirty Years' War, this chapel remained useful and so was rebuilt in 1681.
In 1901, the Pallotines acquired the property and founded a junior seminary or house of studies here for those intending to be missionaries in Africa. By this time, the chapel had become disused and was being used as a garden tool store.
Schoenstatt Movement Edit
In 1912, a young Pallottine priest called Fr Joseph Kentenich became spiritual director at the junior seminary. Two years later he organised some of the seminarians into a Marian sodality, and was granted the deconsecrated chapel as a meeting-place. Prophetically, he declared the chapel to be a source of special graces, which proved correct -the sodality that met with him there is now regarded as the origin of the Schoenstatt Movement.
(The spelling Schoenstatt is commonly used instead of Schönstatt, because of the problems that other languages such as Italian have with the German umlaut.)
The movement was initially a special interest group with the Pallottine religious family, focusing on devotion to Our Lady. A special focus of this devotion was the erection of shrines to her, and at each shrine a replica chapel was built. There are now over two hundred of these worldwide, including the one at Rome.
In 1964, the Movement was definitively separated from the Pallottines after a long dispute during which Fr Kentenich was barred from involvement with it.
Foundation of Aurelio shrine Edit
Fr Kentenich was put back in overall charge, and the following year (1965) expressed the wish for a new Marian shrine at Rome after the close of the Second Vatican Council.
However, he died in 1968 and the intention became rather forgotten. It was only in 1990 that the first shrine chapel was opened at the headquarters of the Sisters of Mary (Sorelle di Maria), the lay sisterhood branch of the Schoenstatt Movement. As with the other Schoenstatt shrines, this one is identical in form to the original chapel.
Foundation of Casalotti shrine Edit
The Schoenstatt Movement dramatically improved its profile in Rome when it opened its Centro Internazionale di Schoenstatt a Belmonte. This is the purpose-built Roman headquarters of the confraternity of diocesan priests of the Schoenstatt Movement, and includes pilgrim accommodation. A second shrine chapel was built, much more accessible than the one at the headquarters of the Sisters.
Appearance of chapels Edit
Common aspect Edit
A single description can suffice for the fabric of both shrine chapels, since they are identical in form.
A Schoenstatt chapel is a small rectangular edifice, having a single round-headed window in each side wall. There is a slightly narrower five-sided polygonal apse, with another such window in each longitudinal wall. The main nave roof is steeply pitched to a gable, and the apse has five steeply pitched sectors meeting at a point at the far gable of the nave roof.
The frontage has a single round-headed entrance. Otherwise it is a blank wall, except for a very small round-headed window or aperture in the angle of the gable. On the gable itself stands a bell-cote consisting of an open rectangular frame topped by an ogee-curved cap looking rather like a helmet.
Inside, the apse contains an elaborately carved Baroque wooden high altar, containing an octagonal panel in which is enshrined a copy of a venerated painting entitled Mother Thrice Admirable by Luigi Crosio 1898. The octagonal frame carries an epigraph: Servus Mariae nunquam peribit ("The slave of Mary will never perish").
Aurelio shrine Edit
An immediate way of distinguishing the two Roman chapels in photographs is by their colour. The Aurelio chapel is in dull red. The site here is very attractive, being a large triangular shaped garden with the chapel in the far angle and with woodland behind. The immediate area of the chapel is paved in red brick, with a triangular pattern in white lines.
The aqueduct of the Aqua Paola crosses the Via Aurelia Antica by a decorative archway here, and the shrine has a car park behind a set of gates just to the east of this (north side of road).
Public focus seems now to be on the Casalotti shrine.
Casalotti shrine Edit
The Centro Internazionale is a spectacular modern building designed by the firm of Gyproc Saint-Gobain, the main block of which (the Domus Pater Kentenich is based on a spiral plan with sectors, like the shell of a nautilus. The fabric is in red brick on a concrete frame.
Two other wings adjacent curve round a courtyard paved in the chambered spiral pattern of the interior of a nautilus shell. A path in pale grey paving leads from this to the stand-alone chapel, which here is rendered in white. The paving is interrupted by double cross-bands in white, but the area in front of the chapel is paved instead in a dull purple with single white lines forming triangular sectors pointing at the chapel entrance.
To the right of this patio, two paths paved in the same way as the approach path lead off into a very large field, and enclose a roughly ellipsoidal area before meeting again at a gate (the "upper gate") some distance away at the north end of the Via di Santa Gemma. This layout is obviously intended for outdoor processions.
Opposite the chapel is a bronze statue of Fr Joseph Kentenich, surrounded by its own little paved spiral.
The shrine is open daily, 9:00 to 18:00.
Access is via the "Lower Gate", which is the entrance for the Centro at the south end of the Via di Santa Gemma. Turn right after the gate, through the "nautilus courtyard" and bear slightly right for the path to the chapel.
The shrine has obviously had recent problems with security. The "upper gate" at the north end of the Via di Santa Gemma is now kept locked. The shrine website advises visitors that if the main entrance gate is closed, it is not actually locked during the period given above.
The following information is from the Casalotti shrine website as at 2016, which asks that other sources giving different times be ignored.
Mass is celebrated Monday to Saturday at 17:30 in summer, and 16:30 in winter.
Rosary is celebrated for the Pope's intentions at 17:00 in winter.
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is from 18:00 to 18:30 in summer, but an hour earlier in winter.
THERE ARE NO LITURGICAL EVENTS FROM 18 JULY TO THE FIRST SUNDAY IN SEPTEMBER.
The Aurelio shrine seems only to be open to private groups.