The Sacro Cuore di Gesù in Prati Church in Rome is also called the Sacro Cuore del Suffragio Church. The church has an impressive Gothic façade that is even more striking because it is wedged between modern buildings. Next to the sacristy is a small museum where relics of souls from purgatory are on display.
Sacro Cuore di Gesù in Prati Church Rome
Address: Lungotevere Prati, 12, Rome. District: Rione Prati. Telephone: +39 0668806517. Opening Hours: From 07.30 to 11.00 and from 16.30 to 19.30. Entrance fee: Free of charge. (NB: During the Corona crisis times may vary).
The Sacro Cuore in Suffragio delle Anime del Purgatorio Church was built between 1894 and 1917. The architect was Giuseppe Gualandi. The founder was the French priest Victor Jouet.
In 1897, a chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Rosario almost completely burned down. On one of the pillars that were still standing, people thought they could see the face of a man. This was thought to belong to one of the souls in purgatory. Jouet then started to collect similar relics. His collection is displayed in a museum next to the sacristy.
Although the church has a white marble-like colour, it is made entirely of reinforced concrete. The style of the building is neo-Gothic.
The facade is characterised by its many pointed spires. This has earned the church its nickname of “Little Cathedral of Milan”. The central part is much higher than the rest of the church. Both the sides of this central part and the sides of the entire church end in pointed spires. Between thesespires are a number of aediculas with statues of saints.
The octagonal bell tower likewise ends in a spire. Under the spire is a loggia decorated with a cross between four irises.
In front of the entrance gate is a protiro (a protective portico). Its columns are made of red marble from Verona. The relief in the lunette shows the “Holy Souls from Purgatory”. The statue in the tympanum depicts “Our Lord of the Sacred Heart”.
The two smaller gates are also preceded by protiros. The relief above the left gate depicts “The Resurrection of Christ”. Above the right gate, the “Descent from the Cross” can be seen.
There are 19 sculptures sculptures on the façade, which wera all made by Orsoni and personally selected by Pope Pius X.
The interior consists of three naves separated by huge pointed arches. The floor is also made of Veronese marble and has a herringbone pattern.
What to see
The main altar was designed by Gualandi. It is made of marble and gilded bronze. On the altar there is a bronze tabernacle. The altar cloth consists of three parts. The Lord in the middle is flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.
Museum of the Souls of Purgatory
Next to the sacristy is a “Museum of the Souls of Purgatory“. After a fire on September 15, 1897, the Virgin of Rosario Chapel was reduced to ashes. On a pillar, an imprint of a man’s head could be seen. It was thought that this imprint was that of a soul from purgatory. There is a photograph of this in the museum.
The French priest Victor Jouet considered the imprint to be a sign from God. He travelled far and wide to find similar relics or documents referring to similar events elsewhere.
His finds can be seen in the museum. There are especially many hand prints burnt into garments and wooden panels. Most of these were discovered in Italy and France.