NAME: Chiesa del Sacro Cuore
LOCATION: Corso Umberto, 277 Bronte (CN)
DATE OF CONSTRUCTION: work began in 1907. The Church was inaugurated on November 15, 1914.
HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Built on the location where the old Chapel of San Rocco once stood, the Sacred Heart Church stands as the jewel mounted between the oldest and most artistic half of the Collegio and the more recent half of the school, built in the first decade of the 20th century. The Baroque-inspired stuccos richly decorate, without being overbearing, the classic Renaissance architectural style.
INTERIOR: The church is rectangular in shape with a semicircular apse. The single barrel-vaulted nave is divided by two decorative lesenes (pilasters). The interior of the church is resplendent with Baroque-style gilded stuccoes that contain classical and Renaissance elements as well. Despite the single nave, we can distinguish five distinct altars in polychrome marble, made by the artist Domenico Spampinato.
- The first altar to the right of the entrance is dedicated to St. Joseph and is decorated with an image the saint painted in 1915 by Angelo La Naia, a painter from Adrano (CT).
- The second altar is dedicated to the martyr, Saint Caritosa, with an altarpiece painted in 1919 by the Catania-born artist, Alessandro Abate. The image shows the saint, in an act of intercession on behalf of the city of Bronte, kneeling before the Madonna and Child, surrounded by angels and cherubs. Below the painting, a glass display case contains the remains of the Saint which were donated to the city of Bronte by the philosopher, Nicola Spedalieri in 1793. The remains are enclosed within a papier-mâché statue by the sculptor Luigi Guacci from Lecce.
- The high altar, constructed in white and pink marble, provides a base for a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The upper portion is decorated with bronze, medallion-shaped reliefs of the four Evangelists; below, on either side of the altar, are two bronze statuettes of St. Peter and St. Paul.
- The first altar to the left of the entrance is dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua with another altarpiece by Abate that depicts a vision of the Christ child appearing to the Saint.
- Between the two altars on the left-hand side of the church, we can admire a great bronze sphere with its tormented form, broken by a deep crack. This sculpture marks the small tomb of the founder of the College, the Venerable Ignazio Capizzi. Below, Christ’s cross sprouts from a seed and rises to the height of the fracture in the sphere, as if trying to mend it. In a land that had been ripped apart and fractured by egoism, injustice, violence and death, the Venerable Capizzi symbolizes the seed of a new humanity, born from the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. This work was designed by the architect Ivo Celeschi (1993).
- The second altar of the left is dedicated to Maria Ausiliatrice (Mary, Help of Christians) and is surmounted by a painting of the same, by an artist from Turin.
EXTERIOR: The late-Renaissance or Mannerist-inspired facade is composed of an alternating pattern of flat, smooth surfaces and bugnato finto or fictive ashlar rustication. There are several classical decorative elements, such as: the triangular pediment of the entrance, which is supported by two columns carved out of local basalt (lava rock), and rest upon prismatic pedestals. Above the portal is a fan-shaped rose window with stained glass decorations, which allows light to filter into the church.
by car: Corso Umberto is accessible by car, and parking is available along the Corso.
by foot: The entrance to the Church is located on Corso Umberto, next to the entrance to the Collegio, n.277.