Saturday, November 17, 2007


"In this Temple My Eyes and My Heart
will always be waiting for You"

This Basilica was wanted and prioritized by two Popes: Pio IX and Leone XIII. With the help of the dioceses in the world, it was built by San Giovanni Bosco (St. John Bosco) on a project of the Count Francesco Vespignani, architect of the Holy Buildings from 1881-1887.

It was patterned in the Bramante Style, Latin Cross Shaped, constructed with classical timeless elegance. The majestic Church was built on the Esquillino Hill in Rome within the Aurelian walls. Its bell tower is the highest point in Rome. This was the first parish Church built after the capture of Rome and it became a parish in February 2, 1879.

On the right side, you can find Confalonieri's marble statue of Pope Pio IX, friend of Don Bosco, who was responsible for the acquisition of the land on Esquillino Hill on where the Temple was to be built. Over this statue is an admirable portrait of Pope Leone XIII, who wanted Don Bosco to build this Church.

Follows the S. Maria Domenica Mazzarello altar who founded with Don Bosco, the Figlie di Maria Ausiliatrice (Mary the Helper's Daughters). Her portrait is from Crida, 1966. Originally the altar was dedicated to S. Luigi.

After that is of S. Francesco di Sales, the patron of the Salesian Family and of the journalist. Over the altar you can see a picture from Piombi; as homage from Don Bosco to Cardinal Parocchi, Vicar of Leone XIII after the consecration of the Church in 14th May 1887.

At the end of the right side the altar of S. Giuseppe, coming from the "100 priests" Church nearby Sisto Bridge. In 1884, it was the high altar in the Chorus, already used for the celebrations while they were building the rest of the Church; here Don Bosco celebrated Mass very often.

Originally Pio IX, who bought the ground to build this Church, wanted to dedicate it to S. Giuseppe, by himself proclaimed the Universal Church Patron (February 8, 1970). After an intelligent discussion about the devotion to the Holy Heart of Jesus by Father Antonio Maresca, he changed his mind dedicating it to the Holy Heart of Jesus. The picture over the altar, located there in 1893, is from Giuseppe Rollini, ex-pupil of Don Bosco in Valdocco.

Over the door towards the Sacristy, there is a tablet to commemorate the date of the Church Consecration on May 14, 1887.

The main centerpiece is the High Altar, coming from the town of Siena. It was taken down from the Church of S. Francesco to be restored and it was sold, together with other marbles to Don Bosco.

With a height of 16 meters, the columns are exquisitely made of alabaster, while the rest of the Altar is made of precious California marbles.

The Holy Tabernacle is of great value for its precious marbles and precious stones. In it was kept for ten years, some unaltered Hosts of an Eucharistic Miracle.

At the center of the Altar is a rendition from Francesco de Rohden (1817-1903), this master painter was the last of the so-called Nazarenes painters. The wall behind the Altar was built in 1969 by Ficini the architect and Mariani the painter to separate the Church from the chorus.

The organ built around another one, was given as a gift to Don Bosco in 1884 from Bernasconi. It was inaugurated three days before the Church Consecration performed by some of the most skillful organ masters in Italy. It was repaired many times from 1970 to 1985. It is still currently under repair. It was defined as one of the best organ during its period. Although out of order, there is a project for its restoration.

To the sides of the Altar, are five lamps burning as they represent the five continents. The Siena and Trento marbles floor and the Altar front were executed by architect Ficini. The dome was painted by Virginio Monti (1852-1942), representing the glorification of the Holy Heart. The above transparent covering was placed on June 7, 1991.

From this point, turning around you see that the Church is Latin Cross shaped, and the ceiling is rich in frescoes and pictures. At the transept, in the centre you can see the Salesian Congregation Shield made of wood by Andrea Bevilacqua. The roofs frescoes are all by Virginio Monti.

Going on in the nave, the eight Basento granite columns can be sighted. The dimensions of this Church is 28 meters in length and 30 meters in width. Don Bosco wanted to change the original plan and added 28 meters to its length.

On the two sides of the nave, there are bishops, popes, patriarchs and Fathers of the Church busts, which indicate the universality of the Temple.

Above are painted the Twelve Prophets by Cesare Caroselli (1847-1927). He also made the Apostles and the Evangelists frescoes that are placed on the pendentives of the transept and on the nearby walls.

In the center of the ceiling of the nave stands out the Holy Heart carved in golden wood by Andrea Bevilacqua, also the author for all the other wooden bass reliefs.

Over the main door, there is a tablet which explains the reason for the name of the Church. Above there are three stained glass windows representing Jesus, St. Peter and St. Paul. The Salesian College of Alassio gave as gifts the two nearby holy-water basins.

Turning right, we find a precious Carrara marble baptistery by Petertongo, which was a gift from the Trento diocese. the surrounding panels about the Baptism are valuable.

Forward is S. Anna and S. Gioacchino Altar, with a painting from Guido Guidi (1991), S. Luca academician. Ahead, we find S. Giovanni Bosco and S. Domenico Savio Altar. Noteworthy are the two exceptional columns coming from an ancient Roman temple, it was a present from a rich family. The lower part was remade in occasion of Don Bosco canonization by architect Guerra Baldellie. The expenses for the renovations was paid for by a rich Roman family.

The painting is by Giuseppe Crida (1934), who also made the Candoglia marble bass reliefs. The Tabernacle is adorned with precious stones.

At the end of the aisle, we find Maria Ausiliatrice's (Mary the Helper) Altar. It was originally installed at St. Teresa's Church, situated in the corner between Via XX Settembre and Via della Consulta. Then it was taken down and lodged in Villa Torlonia (in Via Nomentana) until finally installed in this church.

The center painting is by Giuseppe Rollin, who painted the picture of S. Giuseppe too, he was inspired by Our Lady of Ovverbuk. The diadems crown and the sceptre (blessed by Giovanni XXIII on his deathbed in 1961) were placed there by the Cardinal Paolo Marella in the name of the Vatican Chapter on May 31, 1963.

It was in this Altar where Don Bosco celebrated the Holy Mass on May 16, 1887. Here he stopped for fifteen times crying, realizing the words of his nine year dream "At the right time you will understand everything." At this Altar, as he was reviewing his life, he understood the meaning of these words. On May 16, 1987 a tablet was placed to commemorate its centennial anniversary.

History of the Front of the Church

Don Bosco invited Leone XIII to be responsible for the building of the front, but for many reasons, he was unable to do it. So the Italian Catholics decided to make a national vow for its building, thanking God for having avoided the cholera plague in 1885. Financial contributions came from all the bishops and many public institutions.

Finished in neoclassical style in Travertino marble from Tivoli, crafted by artists such as Benzoni, Pantorese and Baroni who worked on it. The stained glass windows are a work of the Mosaic Company of Venice. The Leone XIII shield is by Geipi.

The statues of the saints which crows the front of the Church should have been four: S. Francesco di Sales by Baroni, S. Agostino by Pantorese, S. Teresa and S. Margherita Alacoque, these last two ones have never been done. The two angels under the Cross are by Angelo Benzoni.

In the BASILICA DEL SACRO CUORE, the following dates are solemnly celebrated:

The First Friday of the Month
The 24th of the Month: MARIA AUSILIATRICE
The Last Month of the Year: DON BOSCO


Daily at Mornings 6:00 6:30 7:00 7:30 8:00 8:30 9:00 9:30 10:00 10:30 11:00
Evening Masses 17:30 19:00

Holidays at Mornings 6:00 7:00 8:00 9:00 10:00 11:00 12:30
Afternoon 4:00 PM (Philippines' Mass)
Evenings 5:30 7:00 PM

Here in this Church you can always find two priests for Confession. Being so near to the Central Station, with the daily number of frequent Masses and the possibility to go to Confession, makes it the most accessible and comfortable in all of Rome.

Basilica Parrocchiale
Via Marsale, 42 - 00185 ROMA
Tel. 06.4453257
Fax 06.4463352

Parroco: Sac. Policari Enzo, SDB