Stella Maris Church in Porto Cervo 0 Comments
Stella Maris church stands all white on a small hill overlooking Porto Cervo’s gulf. It is a synthesis of the Mediterranean style, with round soft shapes. It does not belong to the traditional architecture of Sardinian churches but is well integrated into the Costa Smeralda’s scenario.
It is a masterpiece of modern sacred architecture, created by architect Michele Busiri Vici in the ’60s. It is characterized by the roundness of the walls wrapping round the structure, almost a reminder of the rolling waves of the sea. The dome also refers to the blue of the sea.
Bas-reliefs intersperse along the walls, as well as stylized and sculpted figures and strange indecipherable signs.
The plaster’s pure white contrasts with the reddish roofing and the granite of the monoliths. There are six stone monoliths shaped by the wind that support a juniper beam. This is a reference to the ancient Sardinian prehistoric cult that may be seen in the megalithic circles spread throughout the island. In fact, the architect stated that "ancient religiosity becomes the basis for the construction of the new system of faith".
Outside, two stone sculptures by master Pinuccio Sciola pay homage to Pope John Paul II and to St. Joseph. The conical-shaped bell tower is impressive, with a wrought iron cross at the top and, above the portico, a cross with the initials of Holy Mary on which two doves rest.
The church has a single nave and there is no corner inside. Overpassing the central bronze door sculpted with the Annunciation by the well-known artist Luciano Minguzzi, an intense juniper scent coming from the wooden benches welcomes us. There is a constant reference to the sea, such as the stoup, a large sea shell, and the shell-shaped door handles. All around there are arches and loopholes and the flooring is made up of slices of irregular granite.
In the right aisle, the precious and suggestive painting of the 16th century, the Mater Dolorosa painted by El Greco, donated by the Baroness Tissen-Bentinck. An eighteenth-century wooden crucifix of the German school is displayed on the altar. Above the door, another precious work: the De Martino brothers’ Neapolitan pipe organ dated to the end of the seventeenth century, while the Stations of the Cross are illustrated on tiles in a niche on the wall.
How was Stella Maris born? It is contemporary with Porto Cervo, which became in the ‘60s the privileged holiday paradise of the world jet set. The golden years of the glitz and glittering parties of the Coast. But, as they say, also the rich pray. And the parish priest Don Raimondo Fresi (1920 - 2008), without a church where to officiate, began to celebrate mass in the Porto Cervo’s square, and every Sunday also in the Baja Sardinia and Liscia di Vacca’s square.
However, his dream was to have a church of the Coast by convincing wealthy vacationers to open their hearts (and wallets) to generosity. The greatest help was given by Karim Aga Khan who donated the land, plus a substantial contribution that made it possible to build the church which was dedicated in 1968 to the Queen of the sea; a precious aspect of interreligious dialogue on the Muslim part, open to other religious expressions.
The Stella Maris festival is on August 28, when a suggestive procession takes place on the sea with the statue of the Holy Mary carried on board a boat. In summer the Church is generally open to the public.
“Deus ti salvit Maria prena de Gratzia, su Segnori est cun tegu, benedita tui inter totu is feminas, e benedetu su frutu de sa entri tua Jesus. Santa Maria, Mama de Deus, prega po nosaterus peccadoris, immoi e in s’ora de sa morti nosta. Amen.” (The Hail Mary prayer in Sardinian)--
Written by Daniela Toti