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The Sacred Heart Sanctuary

The construction of the Sacred Heart Sanctuary dates back to 2002 but was blocked for a number of years. Only recently has the Fondazione Opera del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, the organisation established by don Elia Bellebono, former cobbler turned priest at the age of 65 and who could soon be beatified, managed to start the work again thanks to the funds raised. 
The project is linked to an apparition. Don Elia Bellebono said that, in his lifetime, he had witnessed a number of apparitions of the Lord and in one of these which occurred in the church of St. Francis in Urbino, a request was made of him: "I would like you to build a Sanctuary in Urbino dedicated to my Most Sacred Heart". 
So, Don Elia bought 22 hectares of land, in Ca’ Staccolo, in Urbino, now owned by the foundation, and the initial project involved the construction of a chapel, the Sanctuary, a large car park and a spiritual House for university students. 
The Sanctuary project is the work of the Japanese architect, Yasuo Watanabe from the Interstudio firm with the involvement of two artists from Le Marche, Walter Valentini and Vincenzo Tiboni. The bronze door on the western side of the Sanctuary, the work of Walter Valentini, is undoubtedly an important piece of contemporary art accessible to everyone, as are the works found at the top of the bell tower.
The building is oval shaped, almost as though wishing to convey the idea of embracing the worshippers. The inside is completely white, with treated surfaces either shiny and smooth or left unfinished with the first coat of plastering. The passage from the outside indoors is marked by the bronze door created by Walter Valentini who is also responsible for the liturgical furnishings: altar, ambon, tabernacle, baptismal font for which he used white Carrara marble decorated with pure gold. During the day, the inside of the church is flooded with natural light that enters indirectly through shielded openings in the architecture.

The artificial lighting is, on the other hand, entrusted to recess luminaires and spotlights installed along the vault, marked by a central line that reflects the white marble line on the grey floor that pulls the gaze of worshippers and visitors towards the altar and tabernacle. Fixed Reflex spotlights with wide flood optics provide an even lighting to the environment, integrated by rotating Pixel Plus lights, in groups of two or three, directed to light up the pulpit and altar, when necessary. On the ground, along the stairs and around the perimeter of the hall, acting as safety elements for visitors, are square recess floor lights.
A series of backdrops have been created with different lighting levels depending on the occasion: weekday, holiday, festivity, wedding or funeral. When a particularly high level of lighting is required, then the Front Light spotlights come into play with medium optics and spotlights that have been installed on a track and pointed towards the altar area.
A Pixel Plus recess light is also inserted into the false ceiling, structured on several levels, directly above the tabernacle, to provide accent lighting on the gold work of art and emphasize the importance of its content. 
In order to highlight the traditional structure of the women's gallery, on the right hand side of the church, a walkway has been created where the stations of the Via Crucis have been set out, ceramic works of art by Amerigo Salvatori, and individually lit by Laser Blade InOut ceiling lights with wide flood optics.
In the crypt area that is used not only for holy ceremonies but also for meetings, strips of light have mainly been used, as well as numerous recess lights both on the ceiling and on the floor. The Laser Blade XS recess lights on the ceiling create a "scalloping" effect along the walls that are curved, in a number of cases. The recess lights on the ground are also used along the stairs as floor lighting. The general lighting in the rooms, on the other hand, is entrusted to Laser Blade XS ceiling lights, with Wide Flood optics.

The outside of the sanctuary has curved lines and a decidedly unconventional cupola, covered in copper, a material selected in continuity with the warm colour of the terracotta, that covers not only the building but also the walkways that guide the worshippers towards the entrances: to create chromatic continuity, these areas are lit with Walky bollards with rust brown finishing, while the entire building is visible at night thanks to the pole-mounted Palco In Out lights.

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  • Year
  • Client
    Fondazione Opera del Sacro Cuore di Gesù
  • Architectural project:
    Interstudio – Yasuo Watanabe (consulting, artist Walter Valentini)
  • Lighting project:
    Mario Torchio
  • Structural work project:
    Ernesto Olmeda
  • Architectural and structural work management:
    Ernesto Olmeda
    Yasuo Watanabe
  • Safety coordinator and works manager:
    Carlo Ripanti
  • Works of art:
    Walter Valentini (Liturgical furnishings)
    Almerigo Salvatori (Via Crucis)
  • Design and management of plant works:
    Rolando Girelli
  • Photographer
    Michele Nastasi